Legal Battle Brews for Soccer Icon Cristiano Ronaldo Amid Allegations of Unlawful Promotion of Binance-Linked NFTs
Renowned footballer Cristiano Ronaldo finds himself entangled in a proposed class-action lawsuit, as disgruntled plaintiffs assert financial losses resulting from his endorsement of the now-controversial cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.
A legal filing on November 27 in a U.S. district court in Florida contends that Ronaldo played a role in promoting and facilitating the sale of unregistered securities in collaboration with Binance.
Ronaldo’s partnership with Binance, initiated in mid-2022 to boost his own line of nonfungible tokens (NFTs), is at the center of the complaint. At least three of the soccer star’s NFT collections were closely associated with the embattled exchange.
According to the lawsuit, individuals who engaged with Ronaldo’s NFTs were allegedly more inclined to use Binance for activities beyond NFT transactions, including investments in what the plaintiffs claim are unregistered securities such as Binance’s BNB priced at $228 and its cryptocurrency yield programs.
The filing contends that Ronaldo’s promotional efforts encouraged millions of his followers to invest with Binance, characterizing the exchange’s offerings as unregistered securities. Ronaldo’s substantial influence, boasting 850 million social media followers, is cited as a key driver of Binance’s increased visibility, with a reported 500% surge in searches for Binance in the week following the launch of his NFTs.
The lawsuit asserts that Ronaldo, with his investment experience and abundant resources, should have been aware of Binance’s alleged sale of unregistered crypto securities. It references U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidance, alleging that Ronaldo failed to disclose payments received for promoting cryptocurrencies.
The class-action lawsuit is led by plaintiffs Michael Sizemore, Mikey Vongdara, and Gordon Lewis, who are seeking damages and financial restitution for legal expenses.
Simultaneously, Binance and its founder, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, are grappling with their own legal challenges. They recently pleaded guilty and agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. government for violating Anti-Money Laundering laws and operating an unregistered money-transmitting business. Zhao has resigned as CEO and faces potential imprisonment, while Binance has committed to up to five years of compliance monitoring by U.S. regulatory authorities.
In addition to the class-action lawsuit, the SEC has filed a separate legal action against Binance, alleging, among other offenses, the sale of unregistered securities and an ongoing investigation into potential misappropriation of customer funds.