Business & Tech

TelexFree promoter agrees to repay $1.8 million

A once-prominent promoter of the TelexFree Inc. Ponzi scheme has agreed to pay more than $1.8 million to settle civil charges over his role in the global $3 billion fraud.

Sanderley Rodrigues de Vasconcelos, known widely as Sann Rodrigues, of Davenport, Fla., was ordered in federal court in Boston to transfer assets to benefit TelexFree victims, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday.

TelexFree was purportedly a seller of Internet phone plans but turned into a pyramid scheme that ensnared nearly 2 million people around the world, according to prosecutors. The former Marlborough- and Brazil-based company’s chief executive, James Merrill, has been sentenced to six years in prison, after pleading guilty in the fraud. He will begin serving his sentence this month.

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Merrill’s business partner, Carlos Wanzeler, remains a fugitive in Brazil, having fled the United States in 2014, as federal authorities closed in on the fraud.

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On Friday, Brazilian authorities accused Wanzeler and his extended family in Brazil, as well as TelexFree business partner Carlos Costa, of laundering $55 million in dozens of transactions.

In settling the SEC’s charges, Rodrigues admitted he was a promoter of TelexFree, appearing at TelexFree-sponsored public events and gatherings at hotels and resorts to get participants to open accounts that promised big investment returns. He also admitted that he appeared in promotional videos posted on YouTube, the SEC said.

The TelexFree bankruptcy trustee, who is processing the largest number of claims ever in a fraud case, is expected to have about $167 million to distribute to victims, a sliver of the total losses.

Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy
@globe.com
. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.