Steven Seagal Charged With Unlawfully Touting Cryptocurrency

Steven Seagal - 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia - Getty - H 2017
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Without confirming or denying the SEC's anti-touting findings, the actor agreed to pay a total of $314,000.

Steven Seagal was charged with failing to disclose payments he received for promoting an investment in an initial coin (cryptocurrency) offering by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The 67-year-old actor allegedly failed to disclose he was promised $250,000 in cash and $750,000 worth of Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G) tokens in exchange for his promotions on his social media platforms for the initial coin offering (similar to an IPO) the SEC announced Thursday. He also allegedly put out a press release titled "Zen Master Steven Seagal Has Become the Brand Ambassador of Bitcoiin2Gen" which stated he "wholeheartedly" endorsed the new cryptocurrency, according to the SEC. 

In accordance with the anti-touting provisions of the federal securities laws concerning cryptocurrency, "any celebrity or other individual who promotes a virtual token or coin that is a security must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion."

Said Kristina Littman, chief of the SEC enforcement division’s cyber, unit in a statement, "These investors were entitled to know about payments Seagal received or was promised to endorse this investment so they could decide whether he may be biased. Celebrities are not allowed to use their social media influence to tout securities without appropriately disclosing their compensation."

Without confirming or denying the SEC's anti-touting investigation findings, Seagal agreed to pay $157,000 in disgorgement, which represents his actual promotional payments, plus prejudgment interest, and a $157,000 penalty, according to the SEC. In addition, the actor agreed not to promote any securities, digital or otherwise, for three years, according to the agency. 

In Nov. 2018, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and producer DJ Khaled were similarly charged with unlawfully touting coin offerings. Mayweather and Khaled had both noted offerings that they were being paid to promote, with the producer saying it was a "game-changer" and the boxer writing, "Get yours before they sell out, I got mine …"