Lawyers have hit Binance, its CEO, and several celebrities and influencers—including NBA star Jimmy Butler—with a $1 billion civil lawsuit for shilling cryptocurrency.
Filed on Friday by The Moskowitz Law Firm and Boies Schiller Flexner, the lawsuit states that Binance boss Changpeng Zhao and his crypto exchange touted unregistered securities and paid celebrities to help do so.
Following a year-long investigation, the lawyers said they are now seeking $1 billion in damages.
The lawsuit came days after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) separately sued Binance, alleging that the massive company violated trading and derivatives rules.
“Binance partnered with defendants to promote Binance and solicit new customers, including through traditional advertisements on television and social media with contracting with nationally recognized ‘Brand Ambassadors,’ such as Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler,” a Moskowitz statement shared with Decrypt read.
“Binance could not have arisen to such great heights without the massive impact of these influencers, who hyped these unregistered securities for payments of multimillion dollars,” the statement continued.
The lawsuit also mentions YouTubers and influencers Ben Armstrong—known as BitBoy Crypto—and Graham Stephan as defendants who allegedly received kickbacks for getting people to sign up to Binance.
Binance is the world’s biggest crypto exchange and its native token, BNB, is the fourth largest digital asset, with a market cap of $48.8 billion.
U.S. authorities are increasingly keeping an eye on the massive exchange and how it is run.
Friday’s lawsuit specifically mentions BNB and how its “burn rate” (the number of tokens taken out of circulation) is determined by Zhao, representing “a classic example of a centralized exchange, which is promoting the sale of an unregistered security.”