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Telexfree owner arrested by Federal Police in Rio after United States request

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Carlos Wanzeler, owner of the Telexfree financial pyramid, was arrested by the Federal Police on Thursday (20) in Búzios in Rio de Janeiro. The arrest was determined by Minister Ricardo Lewandowski, who also denied Brazilian citizenship to the accused.

However, the arrest warrant was made by the United States government, where the businessman is the subject of a warrant and must face criminal prosecution in the case of Telexfree, G1 reported.

According to the report, the next step is for the Foreign Ministry to report the arrest of Wanzeler to the US government and wait for an extradition request, since the accused in the past opted for American citizenship.

Telexfree owner dead end

The Federal Supreme Court (STF) confirmed on Tuesday the loss of Brazilian nationality of the boss of Telexfree. The decision opens the way for his extradition to the USA, where he is also a defendant in the case of the financial pyramid.

Telexfree, which was commanded in Brazil by Carlos Costa, delivered a major financial blow in the country. It is estimated that the company, whose corporate name Ympactus Comercial has already filed for bankruptcy in court, owes around R $ 2 billion to more than 1 million creditors.

In Brazil, Wanzeler responds to thousands of lawsuits – civil and tax, criminal and one public civil action. In the USA, criminal.

According to the STF, Wanzeler suffered defeat by a majority of the votes of the Second Panel. Minister Ricardo Lewandowski considered the Ministry of Justice's ordinance to declare the businessman's loss of Brazilian nationality valid.

"The loss of Brazilian nationality paves the way for his extradition to the USA," wrote the STF.

Wanzeler responds to several criminal actions in Brazil and the United States for involvement in the financial pyramid scheme.

Probably aware of what Telexfree's outcome would be, even before the company went bankrupt he opted for American nationality.

However, his defense denied rumors that he was claiming his Brazilian citizenship to escape American justice and that the choice had not been voluntary.

According to the defense, on the occasion Wanzeler opted for the USA to speed up his daughter's permanent resident visa procedure, so that she could live with her family on American soil.

"The businessman's lawyers maintained that there is no tacit or automatic waiver of citizenship," said the agency.

Lost to the Constitution

According to Minister Lewandowski, there was an understanding that the Ministry of Justice ordinance observed what Article 12, paragraph 4, item II of the Constitution says, which provides for the loss of nationality of the Brazilian who acquires another nationality.

According to the rapporteur's decision, Wanzeler, who was already an American Green Card holder, could have sought new visa options so that his daughter could join the family.

"The constitutional hypothesis is not to be confused with the situation in question, which consisted of a clear option for the adoption of new citizenship," said the minister.

The Green Card is a document of US law that authorizes foreigners to exercise civil rights and stay in American territory.

Minister Edson Fachin, however, disagreed with the rapporteur's vote and voted to grant the writ of mandamus. For him, the Brazilian authority could not "deduce" that the acquisition of US citizenship was a voluntary act.

There is a case of "positive nationality conflict," said Fachin, adding that the argument that, swearing loyalty to the United States, Wanzeler would have opted for the second nationality, cannot be sustained.

According to the STF, ministers Gilmar Mendes and Cármen Lúcia followed the vote of the rapporteur. Minister Celso de Mello did not participate in the trial due to medical leave.

Telexfree arrested and released

In December, the Federal Police (PF) arrested Carlos Costa and Carlos Wanzeler in ‘Operation Alnilam’.

Just over 48 hours later, the Federal Court ordered them to be released, but with precautionary measures to be followed: prohibition to leave the country; appear in court every two months.

Costa and Wanzeler were preventively detained because there was evidence of money laundering from the scheme with the purchase of real estate.

According to the MPF, Carlos Costa's daughter, Priscila Costa, would have acquired ten apartments in Florida (USA) in the total amount of US $ 730 thousand (about R $ 3 million).

Accused had help to escape

According to the newspaper A Gazeta, Sanderley Rodrigues Vasconcelos, another accused in the Telexfree case, was the target of the Federal Police in an operation also carried out last Tuesday. According to the PF, Sann Rodrigues, as he was known, got help to escape Brazil in 2015.

As reported by the agency, 'Operation Boldness' investigates a group suspected of promising to change PF information systems by paying an undue advantage. In other words, the suspicion is that his name was removed from the list of those prohibited from leaving the country.

"The investigation started when another investigated Federal Police, who was forbidden to leave the national territory by decision of the Federal Court, with his name included in the National System of Wanted and Foreclosed, left the country through an international airport", he says the PF note.

How the Telexfree pyramid operated

Conceived by Carlos Wanzeler, Telexfree's scheme was the sale of telephone packages that were nothing more than a facade.

To advertise the product, the company adopted a multilevel marketing system that cost US $ 50 (about R $ 200) just for joining. Package prices ranged from $ 289 to $ 1,375.

To make a profit, the ‘promoter’ would have to buy and resell packages to anyone who wanted to enter the business. In this way, he earned a referral bonus.

The reward stimulated the growth of the network, but it would become unsustainable when people stopped coming in, a sure outcome in any pyramid scheme, or Ponzi.


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