Former professional soccer star Ronaldinho Gaúcho recently testified before a Brazilian congressional hearing, denying any involvement in an alleged $61 million cryptocurrency pyramid scheme that bore his name, known as “18kRonaldinho.” The scheme had promised surprising daily crypto returns of 2%, which had led to a lawsuit seeking $61 million in damages.
Ronaldinho claimed that he had no partnership or association with the company and asserted that they had exploited his name and image without his consent. In his defense, he showed himself as another victim of this purported scam.
During the hearing, images were presented showing the marketing materials of 18kRonaldinho, prominently featuring Ronaldinho. The soccer legend clarified that these pictures had been taken as part of a contract he signed in July 2019 with a subsidiary of the company, which primarily sold watches. However, he disclosed that this contract was terminated in October of the same year and was never executed.
When the inquiry’s president, Aureo Ribeiro, inquired whether Ronaldinho intended to reimburse those who had invested in the company, the retired athlete chose to remain silent. Similarly, he declined to respond when asked about the $61 million lawsuit.
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Ronaldinho’s attendance at the August 31 hearing marked his final opportunity to appear before Congress, as he had previously missed two hearings, citing adverse weather conditions. Failure to attend this hearing could have subjected him to potential fines or even arrest, with authorities forcibly compelling his presence.
This inquiry, initiated in June, was designed to investigate numerous crypto pyramid schemes and is being conducted by Brazil’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. A total of 11 companies, accused by the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission of falsely promising substantial crypto returns, are under scrutiny.
In the realm of cryptocurrency, most people made their investments just because of their idol or some trusted person. In a report by Todayq News on March 13, 2023, two top Brazilian football players, Mayke and Gustavo Scarpa, almost fell victim to a crypto scam led by a fellow player’s firm, WLJC.
The firm had suggested they invest in Xland Holding, which was later identified as a potential pyramid scam in October 2022 by the Public Ministry of the Brazilian state of Acre. Willian Bigode, the player behind WLJC, claimed to have lost $3.4 million of his own funds in the same scheme and introduced it to Mayke and Scarpa based on trust.