FTX users name Mercedes F1 team and MLB in new promo lawsuits

Mercedes-Benz Formula One team and Major League Baseball helped FTX perpetrate fraud through promotional deals with the crypto exchange, according to a group of FTX users in a new lawsuit.

The plaintiffs, consisting of FTX users, filed twin class-action suits in a Florida District Court on Nov. 27, 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.

In 2021, the Mercedes F1 team signed a promotional deal with FTX which saw the exchange’s logo emblazoned on cars, uniforms, hats and other materials. The MLB signed a similar deal that same year — the first pro sports league to do so — which saw umpires don FTX’s logo on their uniforms.

“The centerpiece, and most important feature, of the partnership, however, was the inclusion of FTX.US patches on all MLB umpire uniforms,” wrote the class complaint filing. “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.”

The complaint against Mercedes F1 was similar, saying the team showcased FTX’s logo in prominent locations on its cars, merchandise and marketing.

FTX also “regularly cheered on and congratulated” Mercedes F1 and its drivers, which the lawsuit said created a “veneer of trustworthiness with Mercedes F1 fans.”

“This ploy would not have been as effective were it not for Mercedes F1’s parallel promotions of FTX,” the complaint said.

The same group of FTX users is also still suing a list of celebrities who promoted the exchange, including former sports stars Shaquille O’Neal and Tom Brady, citing similar allegations of promoting unregistered securities.

Many celebrities named in the lawsuits have attempted to have the suit against them dismissed, saying they didn’t encourage depositing money onto FTX. At least three — professional American footballer Trevor Lawrence and YouTubers Kevin Paffrath and Tom Nash — have settled their lawsuits.

Related: SEC still looking for potential FTX-style fraud at Binance.US: Report

FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted of seven charges relating to fraud, conspiracy and money laundering earlier in November.

Just over a year after inking the deal, the MLB canned its five-year promotional contract with FTX shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy in November 2022.

Mercedes F1 similarly binned its deal with FTX the same year and removed its logo from its cars and merchandise.

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