Brazil soccer star Ronaldinho denies ties to company accused of scam

(Reuters) - Retired Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho Gaucho on Thursday denied an accusation of involvement in a scam that has drawn national attention for deceiving victims with promises of profitable cryptocurrency investments.

The former player for Brazil and Barcelona, whose real name is Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, told lawmakers at a congressional hearing that he is not involved with the company known as 18k Ronaldinho Comércio e Participações Ltda.

"They misused my name to create this company's corporate name," he was cited as saying in a statement by the National Congress of Brazil's lower house.

Ronaldinho said he signed a contract with the U.S. company 18k Watch Corporation in 2016 to create a line of watches bearing his image, the statement added.

It did not say if the two companies are related.

In 2020, the former player became a defendant in a class action lawsuit filed by Brazil's consumer relation institute which asked for 300 million reais ($60.66 million) in damages caused to 18k's clients.

The same year, Ronaldinho and his brother were imprisoned in Paraguay for 171 days for using a falsified passport.

The soccer star was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005 and won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006.

On Thursday, the congressional enquiry's rapporteur Ricardo Silva asked the former player if he had sued the company for undue use of his image. Ronaldinho said his brother took care of these issues.

($1 = 4.9458 reais)

(Reporting by Reuters newsroom; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Richard Chang)