* Rubens Valente
Evangelical pastor Ivonélio Abrahão da Silva, 48, introduces himself as “Apostle Abrahão” and founder of the MIRN church (International Movement Restoring the Nations). Based in Belford Roxo (RJ), MIRN’s slogan is “the church of the happy family”.
Ivonélio’s social networks, in which he placed a Brazilian flag as his profile picture, are fed by basically three types of messages: his participation in cults, texts and videos in favor of a company of supposed “financial investments” in which his son acts, Patrick Abrahão, 24, and propaganda in favor of the reelection of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL).
This Wednesday (19), Patrick was arrested by the Federal Police on suspicion of running a financial scheme using cryptocurrencies and emeralds that would have harmed more than 1 million “investors” in 80 countries. The operation was called “La Casa de Papel” because, according to the police, the group, which already invested in precious stones, wines and travel, also intended to set up its own bank.
In the October elections, “Apóstolo Abrahão”, Ivonélio, shared on Instagram, where he has 92,600 followers, messages in favor of the reelection of Jair Bolsonaro, including a video of former deputy Roberto Jefferson (PTB), arrested on charges of threatening STF Minister Alexandre de Moraes, and another citing God and Bolsonaro’s electoral number.
In 2018, his son Patrick, who now has 3 million followers on Instagram, also campaigned for Bolsonaro. Wearing a shirt with the name of the then candidate, he participated in at least one motorcade in União dos Palmares, in Alagoas, where the MIRN church has a branch.
Pastor Ivonélio is also a “long-time friend” of federal deputy and pastor Marco Feliciano (PL-SP), one of the main bolsonaristas in the evangelical milieu – the expression “long-time” was used in a video by the parliamentarian himself. “I am here to fraternize with you and with the church, with your family, for this inspiring year of life that God has given us. Success, I hope to see you soon, a kiss on Patrick’s heart and I miss you so much”, said the deputy in the video posted in May 2018.
Patrick Abrahão piles up photos on social media next to luxury cars, inside planes and luxury hotels, appearing to live a busy life in paradisiacal places like Dubai and Cancun, Mexico. Married to a gospel singer, Perlla, who has 2.5 million followers on Instagram, Patrick often posts motivational videos and messages, such as “tips to leverage your personal growth”, all revolving around the company Trust Investing.
One of the videos is called “First Million at 21, My Multi-Level Marketing Story”. He claims that during his childhood, that is, just about ten years before the “first R$ 1 million”, his father Ivonélio managed a bakery and received “R$ 300 a month to support our house”. Now everything had changed. Behind Patrick appears a Range Rover painted with the inscription “I trust Trust Investing”.
In September 2020, Patrick published messages with at least three photographs next to deputy Marco Feliciano, in one of them stating that the parliamentarian is his “second father that God gave me”. He also calls him “friend and my shepherd.” In another post, he appears giving the deputy a doll of John Wick, a movie character, a hired assassin played by actor Keanu Reeves. The Wick doll presented to the deputy, which can be purchased for R$500 on the internet, carries a shotgun.
In another photo with Feliciano, Patrick put the hashtag #trustinvesting and wrote: “I want with great joy to welcome our friend Pastor and federal deputy Marco Feliciano! It is a pleasure to have you with us in the same purpose of helping thousands of people around the world! Thank you for your love and trust as always.” Wanted, Feliciano responded to Agência Pública (see below).
‘We are 1 million’, celebrated pastor’s son Patrick created a certain
“PP Network”. Earlier this year, he announced the celebration that “we are 1 million”. “Today our family totals 1 million people. A while ago I did not imagine that I could reach so many people.” This “network” was explained by Patrick himself in a video posted in August 2019, when he was not yet sporting expensive trips abroad. He said Trust Investing’s “investors” could start with $15 and go up to $100,000.
After the “investment”, 65% of the capital “goes for the company to operate within the financial market”, including “two desks in Europe and one in Brazil” and other “investments such as cryptocurrency arbitrage”, in particular Bitcoin. With the “profit”, Patrick said, the company “pays us a percentage” ranging from “0.1% to 5% per day”, with a maximum of 20% per month. He gave an example: the company would receive $100 from the investor and pay “approximately $20 per month.”
Ivonélio Abrahão (right) and his son Patrick (left) in Dubai
Finally, Patrick said that the “investor” could also “develop their network, create their team and be able to expand their team”. For these people, the Trust would pay two types of “bonus”, such as the “direct referral”. The company would “recognise the effort” of the investor on each new member of the network and would pay “10% of the amount applied”. That is, if that friend invests US$ 1,000, the investor who attracted him would immediately receive a “commission” of US$ 100.
In August 2021, Patrick posted a video that shows a crowd gathered in what he called a “Mega Trust Investing event”, with “numerous leaders and investors and the presence of several special guests, giving a boost to our work”. According to Patrick, there were “more than 3 thousand people”. The party had a big screen and a rain of shredded paper.
Trust members appear arriving in luxury cars. Wearing a bright blazer, Pastor Ivonélio spoke on the platform and said, to the camera, “another PP Network event, I’m sure it will mark your history and your life”.
Months later, the Trust started not paying its “investors”, alleging that there was a hacker attack. In March 2022, Patrick announced, alongside the Trust’s “president”, Diego Chaves, that the problem was already solved and that there would be “a repair plan”. According to Chaves, the “hack was more than US$ 800 million”.
He confirmed that there were people “who still haven’t recovered 100% of their investment, due to the hack”. According to Federal Police investigations, Trust Investing simply does not exist in Brazil, although officials said it was based in Estonia. According to the PF, the whole process was a financial pyramid, according to which customers were not obliged, but could attract new members under the promise of incredible rates of return, of 20% per month or 300% per year. Such profitability, according to experts, is impossible in the financial market through legal operations.
The financial pyramid scheme always needs to add new investors. With this new money, the supposed “income” is paid. But at some point, the system collapses.
Security paid by the church
The overlaps between Ivonélio, his church, Patrick and Trust Investing are being mapped by the Federal Police. The investigation has already found, for example, that the church in Ivonélio pays the private security company in charge of the personal security of the pastor, his son and the three main other operators of Trust Investing – Diego Ribeiro Chaves, Fabiano Lorite de Lima and Cláudio Barbosa .
For the PF, the church’s issues are mixed with those of the Trust and Pastor Ivonélio promotes his son and his companies on his social networks. The pastor’s relationship with the Trust is made explicit in several videos on the internet. Last March, for example, Ivonélio participated in a 40-minute live with his son, Patrick, in which he explained that “we started our work in 2019 and every conference, every meeting, we pray to God, we seek the presence of God”. He said he was attending meetings that lasted “four to five days”, “eight to ten hours a day” with “executives” to discuss Trust Investing’s “restructuring plan”.
At that time, the company was being charged by several investors, as it had stopped paying on the grounds that it had suffered a hacker attack. “All that most of you, or everyone who would like to hear, is that no one will be left without receiving”, tried to calm Ivonélio.
The pastor introduces himself on the live as “from the corporate” or “top 20”. “On behalf of the corporate, I come here to say that, in fact, we – on behalf of the top 20 – asked to postpone a little longer so that we could improve everything the company proposed to us on the 21st.” In that video, Patrick says the hackers “stole, yes, a lot of money”.
In another striking example, the day before the outbreak of Operation La Casa de Papel, Ivonélio published a video on his social network in which he appears alongside his son and the “marketing director” of Trust Investing, Fabiano Lima, who introduced his father and son evangelicals as “leaders, friends who are here representing their entire network in Brazil, the largest network in Brazil” and who would be reporting “threats, people who have lost their peace because they believe and think that Trust will not come back”.
Lima said that he is committed “to paying all affiliates in Brazil, Spain, in all countries of the world”. “God bless your life, God bless Diego, anyway. It’s a great joy for me to be here, Fabiano, because you haven’t changed, you’re still the same person since I met you.
Trust Investing, as my son Patrick said, we had extraordinary, wonderful moments, ok, I personally fulfilled dreams that I never thought of fulfilling in my life, that’s the truth. It was through Trust Investing. Tough time, who doesn’t have it. It happens. Obstacle if you jump, this is a reality”, said the “Apostle Abraham”. The PF already knows that the pastor had, at the beginning of the year, two luxury cars in his name, two Porsches, a Boxster and a Cayenne V6, which exceed R$ 600 thousand each on the market.
In the video, Ivonelio also says that “not only in Brazil, like our team outside Brazil, I want everyone to know that we are here in a difficult time too, to hold hands, together hand in hand we are stronger”. “Let’s smile again,” said the pastor.
‘Perplexity and sadness’, says Feliciano about Patrick’s arrest Agência Pública asked deputy Marco Feliciano what it means to be “welcome”, as Patrick said in the 2020 video, that is, if he provided any kind of service to Trust Investing . In writing, the parliamentarian replied: “On this date I was invited to minister in the church that your father [Ivonélio] grazed. I have never worked, nor have I ever received anything from this company. I want to believe that my arrival at the service was a welcome one and that the preaching would help people who would be watching the live broadcast over the internet.” Feliciano said he received the news of Patrick’s arrest “with much perplexity and deep sadness.”
“I met Patrick when he was single, at an evangelical event run by his father who is a pastor. He said my preaching touched him.” About Ivonélio, the deputy said that “we are brothers of faith. We met at church. I was with them twice, in two services.” The deputy also said that he “does not know” nor has a way to evaluate the work of Trust Investing and the MIRN church.
Pública tried to keep in touch with the MIRN church, but the phone number indicated on the internet did not complete. He also tried to contact Patrick’s and Ivonélio’s lawyers, but was unable to locate them. In the videos he posted on the internet, Patrick said that “the company is wonderful, it is something never seen before in the market” and that its operations had “sustainability and transparency”. “Our company is new to the market, but with a huge experience”, said Patrick in August 2019. In a video, Ivonélio said that the Trust’s work “has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people”.