The now former President of Brazil seems to have taken a leaf out of Donald Trump's book and become another high-ranking official potentially in hot water with the law...
As we gather, Jair Bolsonaro's Rolex watch has been sold in a shopping center in Pennsylvania, adorned with diamonds and actually representing a gift he received from Saudi Arabia when he was still Brazil's president. Once the watch was sold and its origin was revealed, this has gotten Bolsonaro into a bit of a pickle, as it raised questions about his handling of gifts received from foreign governments.
Bolsonaro is the subject of several criminal investigations in his homeland, one of which, according to the New York Times, is connected to Rolex watches that one of his associates sold in a Philadelphia shopping center. The Brazilian federal police are investigating whether Bolsonaro and some of his associates attempted to evade taxes on gifts received from foreign governments while he was in office.
The investigation into the treatment of gifts from foreign governments was launched after an incident that occurred in 2021 when a Brazilian official was caught with undeclared jewels worth $3 million in his ranch after an official visit to Saudi Arabia. He claimed that the jewels were a gift for the president and his wife Michelle from the Saudi Arabian government. Bolsonaro himself attempted to retrieve the jewels several times, while on the other hand, the federal police claim their investigation found evidence of embezzlement and money laundering as well.
In one instance, Bolsonaro's personal assistant, Colonel Mauro Sid, attempted to sell an 18-carat gold Chopard brand jewelry worth $140,000. In another incident, Sid allegedly sold a diamond-studded Rolex watch, a gift from the Saudi Arabian government, and a Patek Philippe watch that Bolsonaro received as a gift from the Bahraini government, to the Precision Watches & Jewelry company in a shopping center north of Philadelphia. Reportedly, the former president received $68,000 in cash from this sale.
Bolsonaro and his lawyers argue that the gifts are his property and he can do with them as he pleases, but not everyone agrees. Brazilian law allows former presidents to keep certain personal gifts, but not valuable items like jewels. A commission appointed by the government has stated that most of the items Bolsonaro's associates attempted to sell are personal property, but the judge overseeing the case claims there is evidence that the commission was under pressure to make that decision. Regardless, even if the jewelry belonged to Bolsonaro, he would have been required to obtain permission to sell those items, which he didn't do.
Bolsonaro isn't the only one facing scrutiny over the treatment of gifts from foreign governments. Trump has been accused of failing to document over a hundred foreign gifts worth more than $250,000. Of course, both of them have more serious legal concerns. The former U.S. president has been impeached four times since the beginning of the year, most recently for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. His Brazilian counterpart, on the other hand, is barred from running for office until at least 2030 after spreading false claims about the country's electoral system following his failed re-election bid last year. Bolsonaro also faces trials in several other cases.