Soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo faces a $1 billion class-action lawsuit linked to his commercial relationship with cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
The suit, dated Nov. 28 and filed in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida, in Miami, alleges that Ronaldo “promoted, assisted in, and/or actively participated in the offer and sale of unregistered securities in coordination with Binance.”
The action purports to represent “consumers who purchased unregistered securities offered of sold by Binance.” The lead plaintiff was identified as Michael Sizemore, a California resident who allegedly bought unregistered securities from Binance “after being exposed to some or all of defendant’s misrepresentations and omissions regarding the Binance platforms.”
“Mr. 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,” the legal filing said.
The suit could add to a growing list of legal matters at Binance. In June, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance, the operating company for Binance.US and founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao on allegations of violating federal securities laws. Last week, in a separate case, Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle charges brought by U.S. prosecutors related to alleged violations of breaking sanctions and money-transmitting laws.
Ronaldo partnered with Binance in 2022 in the creation of a non-fungible token (NFT) collection, featuring animated figures depicting moments from his career.
He is accused of “soliciting investments in unregistered securities by encouraging his millions of followers, fans, and supporters to invest with the Binance platform.”
“Mr. Ronaldo’s promotions were published on public websites, television and social media accounts accessible to plaintiffs nationwide, including in Florida,” the suit reads. “On information and belief, in exchange for his services, Mr. Ronaldo received a substantial total compensation package which likely included compensation in the form of digital assets transmitted through the Binance platforms.”
The suit cited prior SEC warnings that virtual tokens may be securities, and that celebrities must disclose when they are getting paid to promote securities.
CoinDesk requested comment via a cristianoronaldo.com email address but did not immediately receive a response.
UPDATE (Dec. 1, 19:05 UTC): Adds that CoinDesk contacted Ronaldo’s representatives for comment
Edited by Bradley Keoun.