Cristiano Ronaldo sued for promoting Binance, unregistered securities

Cristiano Ronaldo sued for promoting Binance, unregistered securities

Pro-soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has been hit with a proposed class-action lawsuit from plaintiffs claiming they suffered losses from his promotion of the now-legally embroiled crypto exchange Binance.

A Nov. 27 filing to a United States district court in Florida claimed Ronaldo “promoted, assisted in, and/or actively participated in the offer and sale of unregistered securities in coordination with Binance.”

Binance entered a multiyear partnership with Ronaldo in mid-2022 to promote a series of his own nonfungible tokens (NFTs), with at least three of the soccer star’s collections tied to Binance.

The complaint claims users who signed up for Ronaldo’s NFTs were more likely to use Binance for other purposes, such as investing in what they claim are unregistered securities, including Binance’s BNB (BNB) and its crypto yield programs.

“Ronaldo’s promotions solicited or assisted Binance in soliciting investments in unregistered securities by encouraging his millions of followers, fans, and supporters to invest with the Binance platform.”

Ronaldo was a key part of Binance’s growing popularity due to his influence and reach, with 850 million followers across social media, says the complaint. They allege his NFT sales were “incredibly successful” at promoting the exchange, with a 500% increase in searches for Binance the week following the initial sale.

The suit alleges Ronaldo knew or should have known “about Binance selling unregistered crypto securities,” as he has “investment experience and vast resources to obtain outside advisers.”

Related: Why Binance’s US plea deal could be positive for crypto adoption

The suit cited U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidance warning celebrities of the need to disclose payments received for promoting cryptocurrencies, which the complaint claims Ronaldo didn’t do.

The class-action lawsuit plaintiffs are Michael Sizemore, Mikey Vongdara and Gordon Lewis, who seek damages and funds to cover legal fees.

Meanwhile, Binance and its founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao are facing their own legal woes, pleading guilty and paying a $4.3 billion settlement to the U.S. government for violations of Anti-Money Laundering laws and running an unregistered money-transmitting business.

Zhao has stepped down as CEO and faces up to 18 months in prison. Binance has agreed to up to five years of compliance monitoring by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury.

The SEC has also sued Binance, claiming — among other charges — that it sold unregistered securities and is reportedly investigating if Binance misappropriated customer funds.

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