Steven Seagal, best known for fighting off bad guys with roundhouse kicks in movies like Above the Law, has settled a case with the Securities and Exchange Commission over promoting a cryptocurrency on social media. The action star will pay $314,000, and won’t be allowed to promote any security — digital or otherwise — for three years.
Seagal “failed to disclose he was promised $250,000 in cash and $750,000 worth of B2G tokens in exchange for his promotions,” which included posts plugging Bitcoiin2Gen and its initial coin offering in 2018, the SEC says. “Bitcoiin” is not a typo.
“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,” Kristina Littman, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit, said in a statement.
Seagal was announced as a brand ambassador for Bitcoiin2Gen in February 2018. In the announcement, which referred to him as a Zen Master, the company said Seagal was aligned with the company’s mission because “what he does in his life is about leading people into contemplation to wake them up and enlighten them in some manner.”
Seagal’s promotion of the coin came a few months after the SEC issued a report that categorized ICOs as securities. And Bitcoiin2Gen received a cease-and-desist order from the state of New Jersey in March 2018 for “fraudulently offering unregistered securities in violation of the Securities Law.” Seagal’s tenure as its brand ambassador ended later that month, Coindesk reported.
Under federal law, anyone who promotes a “virtual token or coin” also has to say how they’re being compensated for the promotion, the SEC notes in its announcement. According to the SEC, Seagal didn’t do that.
Seagal did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings, but will pay the $157,000 he earned from the arrangement; this represents about 20 percent of what he was supposed to receive in Bitcoiin2Gen’s currency. He’ll also pay a penalty of $157,000.