SAO PAULO, March 4 (Reuters) – Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro on Saturday denied committing “illegal acts” after local media reported he tried to bring into his country jewelry that the Saudi government allegedly gifted to him and his wife, according to CNN Brasil.
“I’m being accused of a gift I neither asked for nor received,” CNN quoted the former far-right leader as saying in an interview. “There is no illegality on my part. I never committed illegal acts.”
His remarks came as newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo on Friday reported Bolsonaro had illegally tried to bring to Brazil a jewelry set consisting of a diamond necklace, ring, watch and earrings gifted to him and former first lady Michelle by the Saudi government.
The Saudi embassy in Brazil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the daily, the jewels valued at 3 million euros ($3.19 million) were found by customs agents in the backpack of an aide to then Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque when returning from an official trip to the Middle East in October 2021.
Agents at the Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo seized the jewelry as people must declare any goods worth more than $1,000 when they enter Brazil, the newspaper said, adding that the Bolsonaro administration unsuccessfully tried to recover the jewelry multiple times through government officials.
Bolsonaro is in the United States, having flown to Florida in late December 48 hours before his opponent and successor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in. Bolsonaro is scheduled to attend the CPAC conservatives meeting in Washington later on Saturday.
He is expected to meet former U.S. President Donald Trump, his political idol, at the event.