What is the $1 billion lawsuit facing Cristiano Ronaldo?

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Cristiano Ronaldo is facing a lawsuit seeking at least $1 billion (nearly £790 million) in damages in the US. It follows the football star’s promotion of cryptocurrency-related “non-fungible tokens”, or NFTs, issued by cryptocurrency exchange Binance. The class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in the southern district of Florida on Monday (November 28). Ronaldo, who is yet to comment on the lawsuit, launched his NFT “CR7” collection with Binance last November in the run-up to the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The collection features seven miniature and animated statues depicting the 38-year-old’s iconic moments, including his childhood in Portugal and the ‘coronation’ and ‘restoration’ stages of his life. Prices range from about $77 (roughly £61) to $10,000 (roughly £7,895) for some of the rarer collectibles. According to the Associated Press, Monday’s suit branded the endorsement “incredibly successful” as it led to a 500 per cent increase in online searches for Binance once the NFTs were announced. The suit said that, despite the success of promotional efforts, Ronaldo should have disclosed the amount Binance paid him for the collaboration. The US Securities and Exchange Commission chair Gary Gensler has previously said that celebrities should publicly disclose their pay – as American Federal law requires – so that securities like crypto assets get sufficient promotion. The suit said: “Evidence now reveals that Binance’s fraud was only able to reach such heights through the offer and sale of unregistered securities, with the willing help and assistance of some of the wealthiest, powerful and recognized organizations and celebrities across the globe – just like defendant Ronaldo.” Binance is an online exchange for users to trade cryptocurrency. It operates the largest exchange across the globe. The company was founded in 2017 by Changpeng Zhao who recently came under fire over his failure to prevent money laundering on the platform during the summer, which violated multiple US security laws. SEC chair Gary Gensler said: “We allege that Zhao and Binance entities engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law. “As alleged, Zhao and Binance misled investors about their risk controls and corrupted trading volumes while actively concealing who was operating the platform.” The crypto exchange agreed to pay a settlement of roughly $4 billion (£3.95bn) after Mr Zhao stepped down on November 21. This week’s lawsuit against Ronaldo isn’t the first time a celebrity has faced litigation over crypto promotions. Last year, a host of Hollywood and sports stars – including Larry David and Tom Brady – were named as defendants in a class-action suit against FTX, PA reported. FTX was the second-largest crypto exchange at the time, before it had to tackle its ‘liquidity crunch’ in November 2022.

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