Cristiano Ronaldo, the renowned soccer star, is facing a $1 billion class-action lawsuit in the United States. The lawsuit alleges that Ronaldo promoted, assisted in, and actively participated in offering and selling unregistered securities in coordination with the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. This partnership, which began in November 2022, included the release of Ronaldo’s “CR7” non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These NFTs, initially priced at $77, drastically fell in value to about $1 within a year.
The legal complaint centers on the claim that Ronaldo’s promotion led to a significant 500% increase in searches for Binance, influencing customers to invest in Binance Coin, among other offerings by the company. The plaintiffs argue that Ronaldo’s promotional activities lacked transparency. This is particularly relevant in light of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s guidance, which requires celebrity promoters to disclose payments received for such endorsements.
In addition to Ronaldo’s lawsuit, Binance and its founder, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, are dealing with their own legal challenges. Zhao recently pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to violations of Anti-Money Laundering laws and running an unregistered money-transmitting business. Consequently, he stepped down as CEO of Binance and agreed to a settlement of $4.3 billion with the U.S. government. The SEC has also sued Binance for various charges, including the sale of unregistered securities and potential misappropriation of customer funds.