According to a new lawsuit by a group of FTX users, the Mercedes F1 team and Major League Baseball (MLB) are alleged to have helped commit fraud through promotional deals involving the cryptocurrency FTX.
On November 27, the plaintiffs filed two class-action lawsuits in a Florida court, accusing the firms of “aiding and abetting and/or actively participating in the FTX Group’s massive, multibillion-dollar global fraud” and promoting unregistered securities, according to Cointelegraph.
Mercedes entered into a partnership with FTX in 2021 with the cryptocurrency's logo appearing on the car livery as well as the team overalls. The deal was announced at a time when multiple F1 teams were striking agreements with cryptocurrency companies.
In the same year, MLB signed a similar agreement and became the first professional sports league to do so with umpires wearing the FTX logo on their uniforms.
The class complaint filing reads: “The centerpiece, and most important feature, of the partnership, however, was the inclusion of FTX.US patches on all MLB umpire uniforms. The FTX.US patches marked the first time in the history of MLB, which dates back to the 1800s, that a sponsor brand has had its logo appear on umpire uniforms.”
A similar complaint was filed against Mercedes was similar, stating FTX’s logo was seen in prominent locations such as the cars, merchandise and marketing of the team.
Multiple big names under fire
The same group of FTX users also suing a list of celebrities who promoted the exchange, including former sports stars Shaquille O'Neal and Tom Brady, with similar accusations of promoting unregistered securities. Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is also said to have been sued, OE24 reports.
Many celebrities named in the lawsuits have tried to have the charges against them dismissed by claiming they did not encourage depositing money onto FTX, and at least three have settled the cases against them.
Little more than a year after the deal was struck, MLB terminated its five-year promotional contract with FTX when the company filed for bankruptcy in November 2022. Mercedes F1 similarly terminated its agreement with FTX that same year, removing the logo from its cars and merchandise.
FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering one year ago.