Bolsonaro accused of money laundering

The indictment against former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on money laundering and criminal association charges related to undeclared diamonds from Saudi Arabia is the second indictment against the far-right leader, and more are possible. Thursday’s indictment by the country’s Federal Police, confirmed by two officials with knowledge of the case, followed another indictment in March against Bolsonaro for allegedly falsifying his COVID-19 vaccination certificate. Once Brazil’s Supreme Court receives the police report with the latest allegation, the country’s attorney general, Paulo Gonet, will analyze it and decide whether to shelve it, request an additional police investigation or press charges and force Bolsonaro to stand trial, according to AP.

It’s still early to say how likely the latter option is, but the police indictment has already marked a turning point in the case, said legal expert Renato Stanziola Vieira, president of the Brazilian Institute of Penal Sciences. It dramatically increases the legal threats facing the divisive former leader, which are applauded by his opponents but denounced as political persecution by his supporters. Bolsonaro had no immediate comment, but he and his lawyers have previously denied any wrongdoing in both cases, as well as in other investigations. One is looking into his possible involvement in inciting a January 2023 uprising in the capital of Brasilia that sought to oust his successor from power.

Last year, federal police accused Bolsonaro of trying to smuggle diamond jewelry reportedly worth $3 million and selling two luxury watches. Police said in August that Bolsonaro received cash from the nearly $70,000 sale of two luxury watches he received as gifts from Saudi Arabia. Brazil requires its citizens arriving by plane from abroad to declare goods worth more than $1,000 and, for any amount above that exemption, pay a tax equal to 50% of their value. The jewelry would have been tax-exempt if it had been a gift from Saudi Arabia to Brazil, but not if Bolsonaro had kept it. More information here.

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