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Ronaldinho's fake passport case may involve money-laundering scheme


The inquiry that began with Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho being detained for possessing a fake passport in Paraguay could be pivoting into a larger investigation involving a money-laundering scheme.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Osmar Legal, is probing the link between Ronaldinho and Dalia Lopez, a businesswoman who arranged for the retired footballer and his brother, Roberto Assis, to visit Paraguay earlier in March.

Lopez met the two when they arrived at the airport in Asuncion before they were detained.

"She could be involved in a money-laundering scheme and that means we have to investigate all the other people that were related to that kind of crime, including Ronaldinho," Legal told Reuters, via ESPN.

"That is why we strictly maintain that he be kept in jail. Our principal hypothesis is that they produced false documents, that they used those documents (to enter Paraguay), and that they were eventually going to be used for some commercial means or investments that were not legal."

Ronaldinho, 39, was arrested on March 6 along with his brother after arriving in Paraguay with doctored documents, even though, as Brazilians, the two didn't need a passport to enter the neighboring country.

They've been in jail since the arrests and were denied bail after a judge deemed them to be flight risks.

Lopez, who's believed to be on the run, is wanted by police on suspicion that she's involved in organized crime; Ronaldinho was supposed to make an appearance in support of a charitable organization that she runs.

Two men, who say they took money from Lopez to acquire the falsified passports, turned themselves in last week. A third individual, Wilmondes Sousa Lira, delivered the passports to Ronaldinho and his brother. He's in custody, and police are examining his phone records to see if they can determine why Ronaldinho ended up with the passport in question.

"They weren't able to answer (those questions)," Legal said. "They said they were a gift. Their lawyers said they were tricked and acted in good faith. But if we believe that everyone acts in good faith then no one would ever go to jail."

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