Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has been sued in Florida in a class action lawsuit by Binance customers seeking $1 billion in damages for his involvement in promoting the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. In 2022, Ronaldo began creating NFT collections, which he promoted on social media, in partnership with Binance. The plaintiffs allege that in doing so, he “participated in and aided” the sale of unregistered securities.
The plaintiffs assert that Ronaldo “knew or should have known of potential concerns about Binance selling unregistered crypto securities,” given his financial and potential legal resources. Cryptocurrency tokens, which are generally considered securities by the SEC, must usually be registered with the proper authorities. Binance did not do so.
On November 21, Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, settled with the federal government to pay over $4 billion in penalties and restitution for violating U.S. securities laws. As part of the settlement, Binance founder Changpeng Zhao stepped down as CEO and agreed to pay $53 million in fines. He also pleaded guilty to a felony related to money laundering.
The complaint asserts that Binance could only have conducted fraud on such a large scale with the “willing help and assistance” of organizations and celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo. The suit notes that Ronaldo often promoted his own NFTs and Binance in general on his social media pages.
The plaintiffs argue that the objective of the partnership between Ronaldo and Binance was to “help Binance successfully solicit or attempt to solicit investors in Binance’s crypto-related securities from Florida and nationwide.”
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital assets bought and sold online using blockchain technology. They are often marketed as investments because they are meant to be unique collectibles. With the purchase of an NFT, consumers were entered to win prizes such as a meeting with Ronaldo. The most expensive starting price for one of Ronaldo’s “CR7” NFTs was about $10,000. The most affordable were priced at $77 and were worth just $1 one year later. The plaintiffs argue that they would not have made such bad investments in Binance products, like cryptocurrency tokens, had Ronaldo not heavily advertised Binance products on his social media.
According to the complaint, web searches for NFT-related terms increased after Ronaldo’s NFT collection was announced, with a 500 percent increase in searches including the term “Binance.”
On November 28, Ronaldo posted on X that he was “Cooking something up with @binance.”
Cristiano Ronaldo faces a $1 billion class-action lawsuit after promoting Binance NFTs, AP News (November 30, 2023)
Why Cristiano Ronaldo is being sued in $1bn lawsuit by people who bought his NFTs, The Athletic (November 30, 2023)
Cristiano Ronaldo Faces $1 Billion Class Action Lawsuit For Promoting Binance, Forbes (November 29, 2023)
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