Janet Jackson's Billionaire Ex Sues Facebook Over Bogus Crypto Ads

Janet Jackson’s ex-husband, the Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, is suing Facebook after a crypto scam used his image to promote itself in the Middle East without his permission.

Al Mana is claiming defamation, malicious falsehood and false advertising by the unnamed cryptocurrency firm, The Times reported on Feb. 23.

His defamation action has been filed in Dublin, Facebook’s European headquarters, where the legal framework for such cases is deemed to be more amenable for plaintiffs than the United States.

Sue Facebook in Dublin, not Menlo Park

Defamation cases, according to Belfast-based defamation lawyer Paul Tweed, stand a greater chance of success in Europe, as Facebook allegedly attempts to “hide” behind the U.S.’ first amendment principles to evade its responsibilities to protect users’ reputations.

Reluctant to give interviews, Al Mana reportedly takes pains to restrict public information and coverage to his official personal site, wissamalmana.com. Recently, he has used the site to clarify that he has no social media accounts and that any profiles ostensibly linked to him “should not be quoted or used as a source of accurate information.”

Al Mana — estimated to be worth 1 billion euro — owns the exclusive regional rights to prestige brands such as Harvey Nichols, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, and Hermès, as well as the McDonald’s franchise for Qatar. He was married to the well-known pop star Janet Jackson between 2012 and 2017. 

Tweed has previously represented the likes of Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh and Qatari critic Ghanem Nuseibeh against Facebook. He has also represented Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, Nicolas Cage and Harrison Ford in Irish defamation actions.

Milking the stars

Last fall, Cointelegraph reported that a nonexistent and potentially nefarious Bitcoin investment platform was using apparently false testimony from the actress Kate Winslet, as well as purporting to have the backing of the likes of Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

Some celebrities have gotten caught up in legally murky cryptocurrency schemes, such as boxer Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather and rapper DJ Khaled, who helped to promote the initial coin offering for crypto financial services startup Centra Tech. Centra Tech’s co-founders were later indicted and charged with securities and wire fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).