Bolsonaro accused of laundering money from Saudi Arabian diamonds

Bolsonaro accused of laundering undeclared diamond money from Saudi Arabia

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been charged with allegedly laundering money from undeclared diamonds from Saudi Arabia.

Federal police have accused Bolsonaro of trying to smuggle $3 million worth of diamond jewelry and selling two luxury watches last year (GETTY)

The indictment of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on money laundering and criminal conspiracy charges over undeclared diamonds from Saudi Arabia marked the far-right leader’s second indictment, with potentially more to come.

Two sources with knowledge of the case confirmed Thursday’s indictment by the Federal Police, which followed another indictment in May against Bolsonaro for allegedly falsifying his COVID-19 vaccination certificate. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Brazil’s Supreme Court has not yet received the police report with the latest accusation. Once it receives it, the country’s attorney general, Paulo Gonet, will analyze the document, decide whether to press charges and force Bolsonaro to appear in court.

The indictment dramatically raises the legal threats facing the divisive former leader, which are applauded by his opponents but denounced as political persecution by his supporters.

Bolsonaro did not immediately comment, but he and his lawyers have previously denied wrongdoing in those cases and other investigations into the former president. One of them is looking into his possible involvement in inciting an uprising in the capital Brasilia on Jan. 8 last year to oust his successor from power.

Last year, federal police accused Bolsonaro of trying to smuggle $3 million worth of diamond jewelry and selling two luxury watches.

Police said in August that Bolsonaro received cash from the sale of nearly $70,000 worth 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 pay a tax equal to 50% of their value on any amount above that exemption.

The jewels would have been exempt from taxes if they had been a gift from Saudi Arabia to Brazil, but not for Bolsonaro to keep for himself, but rather as an addition to the presidential collection.

The investigation showed that Mauro Cid, a former Bolsonaro aide-de-camp who allegedly falsified his COVID-19 records, sold a Rolex watch and a Patek Philippe watch to a store in the US in June 2022 for a total of $68,000. They were a gift from the Saudi Arabian government in 2019. Cid later signed a plea agreement with authorities and confirmed everything.

Flávio Bolsonaro, the former president’s eldest son and sitting senator, said the X after Thursday’s accusation that the persecution against his father was “blatant and shameless.”

In addition to Bolsonaro, police have charged ten other people, including Cid and two of his lawyers, Frederick Wassef and Fábio Wajngarten, according to one of the sources.

Wassef said in a statement that he did not have access to the final report of the investigation and denounced selective leaks to the press of an investigation that is supposed to be conducted in secret.

“I’m going through all this just to practice law in defense of Jair Bolsonaro,” he wrote.

As for X, Wajngarten said the police found no evidence incriminating him. “The Federal Police know that I did nothing related to what they are investigating, but they still want to punish me because I offer an unwavering and permanent defense of former President Bolsonaro,” he said.