Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle chose to remain silent Thursday in the face of police investigating allegations of misappropriation of jewelry donated by foreign countries, a scandal that has been in the headlines for weeks.
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Diamond jewellery, luxury watches or pens: Investigators suspect the Bolsonaro couple of illegally appropriating items that are supposed to be public heritage.
The former far-right leader was questioned at the federal police headquarters in Brasilia for the fifth time since he left power at the end of December, after being defeated in the presidential elections by left-wing leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
After being sentenced at the end of June to eight years in prison for disqualification for posting false information on electronic ballot boxes before voting, Mr. Bolsonaro is in fact surrounded by a myriad of legal cases.
On Thursday, the former head of state (2019-2022), the former first lady and six of their close collaborators were interrogated separately, and at the same time, one of them was questioned from the Sao Paulo police station.
Jair and Michelle Bolsonaro “used their right to silence”, we can read in a press release issued by their lawyers published in the local press.
These lawyers question the fact that the investigation is being conducted under the auspices of the Supreme Court, rather than the Court of First Instance, and explained that their clients have decided to “respond only when they face a competent judge” in this case. .
Investigators suspect that some of the close collaborators, who were summoned Thursday, resold some of these gifts, particularly luxury watches, with the aim of “illicit enrichment” of the former president.
The latter, whose case was already heard in April, faces imprisonment on charges of money laundering and illegal appropriation of public property. He has always denied any wrongdoing.
According to the Brazilian Court of Auditors, only gifts of “highly personal nature or of minimal monetary value” may be held by the Brazilian president at the end of his term of office.
The watch was sold and then repurchased
The scandal of a bijoux a clate in March, quand le journal Estado de S. Paulo a révélé que de hauts fonctionnaires avaient tenté de faire entrer illégalement in Brésil a parure of diamants destinée by Michelle Bolsonaro and offered by l’Arabie saoudite, sans the declarer advance.
But investigators point to evidence showing that many other government gifts may have been misappropriated, such as a Rolex that was resold in the US and later bought by Frederick Wassef, the Bolsonaro family’s lawyer.
The latter, who was interviewed Thursday in Sao Paulo, said he was “the victim of a cowardly misinformation campaign” and asserted that he “never committed the slightest offense,” in a brief statement to reporters at the entrance of the police station.
Two weeks ago, a Supreme Court judge authorized the lifting of banking secrecy from the former head of state and his wife to identify possible suspicious movements on their accounts linked to this case.
And last week, Michelle Bolsonaro spoke about the scandal with sarcasm. Speaking at an event organized by her party, she said, “We talk so much about jewelry that I will soon be launching the ‘Mijou’ line.
The former president was also questioned by the federal police at the end of April, in connection with his alleged involvement in the January 8 riots, when Bolsonarian protesters sacked the places of power in Brasília a week after Lula’s inauguration.
During another interview conducted by police in Brasilia in May, he denied involvement in the alleged forgery of COVID vaccination certificates, after a search of his home.
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