The Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), which oversees the government’s treasury, also ordered the far-right ex-army captain to hand over two weapons he received as a gift from the United Arab Emirates in 2019 to the collection of the presidential palace.
Under Brazilian law, government officials are only allowed to keep gifts that are “both highly personal and of minimal monetary value,” the court’s president, Bruno Dantas, said at a public hearing, giving Bolsonaro “five days to collect all items associated with this case involved back to … its rightful owner, the Presidential Palace.”
The court’s unanimous ruling is the latest chapter in a drama that has dominated headlines in Brazil since allegations emerged earlier this month that Bolsonaro was trying for millions of dollars worth of jewelry he and his wife received as gifts from Saudi Arabia, import illegally.
The episode has become a legal and political headache for the ex-president, who is currently in the United States and is expected to return to Brazil soon, hoping to lead the opposition to his leftist successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro, who denies wrongdoing, had suggested through his lawyers that the jewels be handed over to authorities pending the outcome of the investigation.
The scandal erupted when the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported that customs officials intercepted an aide to Bolsonaro’s then-minister of mines and energy who was trying to enter Brazil with a backpack containing diamond jewelry from Swiss luxury company Chopard after an official trip to Saudi Arabia in October 2021.
It later transpired that Bolsonaro had kept a second set of jewels, also belonging to Chopard, who entered Brazil unnoticed after the same trip.
Travelers entering Brazil with goods worth more than $1,000 must declare them and pay hefty import taxes.
According to media reports, the value of the jewels for the first set is $3.2 million and for the second at least $75,000.
They could also have entered Brazil tax-free as official gifts to the nation. But then they would have belonged to the collection of the presidential palace, not to the first family.