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Brazil’s Bolsonaro may be charged over jewel sale

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro benefited from an illegal scheme to sell $1.2m (£937,000) in jewellery and other luxury gifts given to his government, police investigators say.

It comes after Brazil’s Federal Police last week recommended charging him with crimes including money-laundering over undeclared jewellery gifted between 2019 and 2022.

The latest police report states that officials had “acted to divert” expensive gifts to Mr Bolsonaro from foreign governments. The officials then sought to sell the items for “the illicit enrichment of the then president”.

The far-right politician has claimed that cases against him are politically motivated.

The report submitted to the Supreme Federal Court on Monday says that cash raised from such sales was paid to the former president “without using the formal banking system”.

Prosecutors have been given 15 days to decide whether to formally charge Mr Bolsonaro.

The case centres on allegations that he tried to illegally import and keep millions of dollars’ worth of jewellery given to him and his wife by Saudi Arabia in 2019.

The jewels were impounded by Brazilian customs officials when a member of Mr Bolsonaro’s entourage tried to bring them into the country in 2021.

The police report says the jewellery included Rolex watches and Patek Phillipe watches, as well as diamond pieces from luxury brand Chopard.

Mr Bolsonaro’s team later returned some of the jewellery once news of the case was reported, it added.

The former president’s lawyer, Paulo Cunha, posted on social media that heads of state “have no direct or indirect influence” on what happens to official gifts.

Mr Bolsonaro is also facing other legal challenges, including an investigation into whether he incited rioters who stormed key government buildings after he narrowly lost the 2022 presidential election to his left-wing rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

This led to unsubstantiated claims by his supporters of voting fraud – eventually escalating into the violent scenes in the capital.

He has voiced “regret” for the unrest, but denies he caused it.

However, Brazil’s Supreme Court has agreed to include him in its investigation into the storming of government buildings on 8 January 2023.

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