Brazil’s jailed 'bitcoin pharaoh' will have to sit out next month’s election

Quick Take

  • Brazil’s so-called “bitcoin pharaoh” Glaidson Acácio dos Santos had been hoping to run for a federal deputy seat on Oct. 2, despite being in jail on alleged charges tied to a crypto pyramid scheme.
  • The Regional Electoral Court of Rio de Janeiro (TRE-RJ) unanimously denied his candidacy. 

A Brazilian court unanimously moved to prohibit "bitcoin pharaoh" Glaidson Acácio dos Santos from running for office because of his company's alleged role in a pyramid scheme.

Dos Santos was hoping to run as a federal deputy candidate under the Christian Democratic party, Brazil's state news agency Agência Brasil reported on Sept. 13. The country will hold general elections on Oct. 2. 

The Regional Electoral Court of Rio de Janeiro (TRE-RJ) objected to dos Santos' candidacy because his company was allegedly involved in a bitcoin Ponzi scheme that, according to the Associated Press, promised investors monthly returns of 10%.

Brazil's federal police said it seized 591 bitcoins as part of what they called Operation Kryptos last year, which were worth nearly $28 million at the time. Police also seized almost 14 million Brazilian reais (nearly $2.7 million) and other currencies, as well as 21 luxury vehicles, high-value watches, jewelry, cell phones and documents.

Cryptocurrency is becoming increasingly popular in Brazil. In July, digital institution Nubank announced it had amassed one million users for its crypto platform just a month after its launch. At the same time, Latin America-focused cryptocurrency exchange Bitso said it had hit one million users in the country after a year of operation.

"The candidacy of the businessman, who remains in prison, was unanimously challenged by the Regional Electoral Court (TRE-RJ), on the grounds that Santos is the director of a financial establishment subject to liquidation," Agência Brasil wrote. "The rapporteur of the case, judge Luiz Paulo da Silva Araújo Filho, pointed out that Santos is accused of federal crimes, including links with the militia."

Dos Santos, who held a job as a waiter before turning to bitcoin, owns the company G.A.S. Consultoria e Tecnologia in Cabo Frio, Rio de Janeiro. In January, he was facing charges including "racketeering, financial crimes and ordering the murder and attempted murder of two business competitors," the Associated Press reported. He is currently in "preventive detention" following a complaint filed by Brazil's public prosecutor's office, according to a court statement.


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