Brazil’s Bolsonaro questioned on gifts of jewelry and watches from Saudi Arabia while in office

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian federal police questioned former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday about attempting to sneak in diamond jewelry reportedly worth $3 million and the sale of two luxury watches he received as gifts from Saudi Arabia while in office, federal authorities said.

Bolsonaro arrived Thursday morning at the federal police in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, a federal police spokesperson confirmed to journalists waiting outside the premises, including one from The Associated Press.

Another federal police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the ongoing investigation, confirmed to the AP that he and seven others also were summoned to answer questions about the jewelry.

Aside from Bolsonaro, police also questioned his wife Michelle, two lawyers, former aide Lt. Col. Mauro Cid, Cid’s father, Osmar Crivelatti and Marcelo Câmara, the officer said. The simultaneous sessions were reportedly designed to prevent the individuals from exchanging information on the line of questioning.

According to newspaper Folha de S.Paulo and other local media, Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle chose to remain silent. The outlets cited the couple's lawyers, who did not respond to several requests for comments from the AP.

The hearings pose another potential blow for the embattled far-right leader, who is also the target of several other investigations.

Earlier this month, federal police raided the homes and offices of several people purportedly involved in the jewelry case and alleged Bolsonaro received nearly $70,000 for the sale of two luxury watches gifted from Saudi Arabia.

Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation into the undeclared jewelry is just one of many legal headaches Bolsonaro faces.

Earlier this year, he was ruled ineligible to run for office until 2030 after a panel of judges concluded he abused his power and cast unfounded doubts on the country’s electronic voting system.

Another investigation revolves around Cid’s arrest in May for allegedly falsifying COVID-19 vaccine cards for his own family and Bolsonaro’s family during the pandemic.

A parliamentary commission of inquiry is also investigating whether Bolsonaro incited the Jan. 8 riots in which his supporters ransacked the Supreme Court, the presidential palace and Congress one week after leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated as president.