Cristiano Ronaldo Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over Binance Crypto Promotion
In a legal saga intertwining the worlds of sports, celebrity endorsements, and the cryptocurrency market, pro-soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo finds himself embroiled in a proposed class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Ronaldo played a pivotal role in promoting the now legally troubled crypto exchange giant, Binance.
Filed on November 27 in a United States district court in Florida, the lawsuit asserts that Ronaldo not only promoted but actively participated in the sale of what the plaintiffs claim are unregistered securities in collaboration with Binance.
The genesis of this legal tangle traces back to a multiyear partnership forged between Binance and Ronaldo in mid-2022. The collaboration was geared toward the promotion of Ronaldo’s exclusive nonfungible tokens (NFTs), three of which were directly linked to Binance.
According to the complaint, individuals who engaged with Ronaldo’s NFTs were allegedly nudged toward using Binance for various purposes, including investing in what the plaintiffs assert are unregistered securities. This encompassed Binance’s BNB cryptocurrency and its crypto yield programs.
Ronaldo’s colossal social media footprint, boasting a staggering 850 million followers, is cited as a crucial factor in augmenting Binance’s visibility and popularity. The lawsuit contends that Ronaldo’s endorsement significantly bolstered the exchange’s reach, triggering a noteworthy surge in searches for Binance by up to 500% in the week following the initial NFT sale.
However, the lawsuit takes aim at Ronaldo’s purported knowledge or lack thereof regarding Binance’s alleged sale of unregistered crypto securities. It points to his investment experience and considerable resources, suggesting that he should have been aware of the situation. Additionally, the complaint highlights the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s guidance, which emphasizes the obligation for celebrities to disclose payments received for endorsing cryptocurrencies—allegations that Ronaldo seemingly failed to adhere to.
The plaintiffs, identified as Michael Sizemore, Mikey Vongdara, and Gordon Lewis, seek redress for incurred losses and coverage for legal expenses through this class-action lawsuit.
Concurrently, Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao face their own set of legal entanglements. Recently, the company pleaded guilty and agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. government for Anti-Money Laundering law violations and operating an unregistered money-transmitting business. Zhao’s resignation as CEO and potential prison time, coupled with Binance consenting to up to five years of compliance monitoring by federal authorities, underscore the gravity of the situation.
Moreover, the SEC’s lawsuit against Binance, encompassing charges of selling unregistered securities and probing alleged misappropriation of customer funds, compounds the exchange’s legal quagmire.
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