Former player Ronaldinho Gaúcho became a defendant in a collective civil action that asks for R $ 300 million for moral and material damages because of his connection with the company 18kRonaldinho. Since last year, the firm has blocked money from clients who have invested in its activities.
The collective action is being filed by Ibedec (Brazilian Institute for the Study and Defense of Consumer Relations) of Goiás, which claims to have identified 150 people injured by the blocking of 18k accounts. According to Ibedec, the victims live in several Brazilian states and in countries like the United States, Portugal and Italy.
The amount stipulated in the lawsuit was calculated based on the alleged losses of the victims, but the request will still be considered by the Court.
In addition to Ronaldinho and the company that bears his name, the directors and collaborators Marcelo Lara Marcelino, Bruno Rodrigues Alcântara, Raphael Horácio Nunes de Oliveira and Athos Trajano da Silva, who used to recruit clients in meetings around Brazil, appear as defendants in the action.
Last year, the Sports was the first vehicle to report on the company’s activities, which claimed to do multilevel marketing and promised yields of up to 2% per day, in addition to prizes like a Porsche Panamera for those who bought packages ranging from US $ 30 to US $ 12 thousand (approximately , from R $ 130 to R $ 52 thousand). The promise was to earn income from operations in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
In October, after a report revealed that the Federal Prosecutor’s Office was investigating 18k on suspicion of being a financial pyramid, a practice considered a crime against the popular economy, Ronaldinho announced his dismissal and went on to say that he was a victim of the company. Soon after, customers began to be unable to withdraw the money invested in the online platform.
One of the victims listed in the lawsuit is youtuber Johnny Helder, who has a channel with investment tips. He claims to have invested around R $ 200 thousand. When he published a video criticizing the company’s activities, his account was blocked.
Other injured clients have also filed individual actions, such as an investor from the interior of Paraná and youtuber Lucas Marques, from Rio Grande do Sul.
Lawyer Fernando Barbosa, from Ibedec in Goiás, included Ronaldinho as a defendant in the class action lawsuit for the conviction that he was more than just a poster boy for the business. “There are several advertisements, several videos on the internet, announcing the former player as a partner in the company,” he said.
Although Ronaldinho’s name is not formally linked to the company named after him, at an 18k meeting last year witnessed by the report, the firm introduced Ronaldinho as a partner-owner. In meetings with members and in institutional videos, the former athlete promoted the association with the company.
Wanted, lawyer Sergio Queiroz, who defends Ronaldinho, said he would not speak out because he had not yet been officially notified. But he said that the former player “is an illegitimate party to appear in any action involving the company of Mr. Marcelo Lara.”
Lawyer Gabriel Villarreal, who defends 18k, also declined to comment, as he has not yet been officially notified. He said he did not know whether the company’s president and employees would respond about blocking customers’ accounts.
Marcelo Lara Marcelino, who presents himself as CEO of 18k and lives in the United States, has recorded videos distributed by WhatsApp, in which he states that his business was the victim of fraud and that for this reason he would have blocked the withdrawals from his platform.
He has already promised to return the amount invested in watches and shares of other companies, but customers say that, so far, the promises have not come true.
Firm is also investigated by the Public Ministry
In addition to the civil action, 18kRonaldinho is the target of an investigation in the criminal sphere, carried out by the Public Ministry of São Paulo. The prosecution has heard the former player. At the time, he claimed to have had the name misused in promotional actions.
Prosecutors now intend to hear from the company’s partners, who live in Rio de Janeiro, regarding the complaint.