Brazil's Corinthians Faces Investigation Over VaideBet Sponsorship

May 30, 2024
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The record-breaking sponsorship deal between online betting operator VaideBet and Brazilian football club Corinthians is now under investigation over the role of a suspicious intermediary.
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The record-breaking sponsorship deal between online betting operator VaideBet and Brazilian football club Corinthians is now under investigation over the role of a suspicious intermediary.

In January, VaideBet announced a three-year deal worth R$370m (US$71m) with the famed São Paulo-based club, which broke all sponsorship deal records in Brazil and has not been matched since, representing the peak of sponsorship fever in online gambling’s hottest emerging market. 

At the time, eyebrows were raised as many had never heard of VaideBet with the Curacao-licensed brand not expressing interest in a Brazilian licence during a process last year, prompting the club to make a statement that the deal had been investigated and was legitimate. 

Now, São Paulo’s civil police have launched an investigation into an alleged “laranja” – which means orange in Portuguese, but is slang terminology for a dirty money front.

The news broke in the blog of famed Brazilian sports journalist Juca Kfouri, who reported on the role of Rede Social Media Design Ltd, which was the intermediary in the sponsorship deal. The group allegedly received two bank transfers from Corinthians in March of this year. Rede is owned by Alex Cassundé, reportedly a friend and former colleague of Corinthians marketing director Sergio Moura. 

Rede then allegedly transferred the money to Neoway Soluções Integradas em Serviços Ltda. Neoway is registered to one Edna Oliveira dos Santos, who has since denied owning the company. Neoway's address is listed as a co-working space that the company has never used.

Pedro Simões, a Brazilian lawyer who heads the anti-money laundering and betting practices at Veirano Advogados noted that as things stand, “no accusations have been made, the use of intermediaries has been common so such an investigation could have been expected”.

“As I see it, at the moment, there is a suspicion on the driving of money out of Corinthians, so not necessarily any wrongdoing by VaideBet so far,” Simões said.  

In a statement, Corinthians said: “'The club emphasises that it is not responsible for any transfer of funds to third parties. If any evidence of illegal acts is presented, it will be discussed with the Deliberative Council for any necessary measures.”

Rede Social Media Design was asked this week by the club to officially explain what happened and Sergio Moura has since resigned over the incident.

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