Actor Steven Seagal’s wallet just took a hit, with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday announcing the former action star will pay a $314,000 settlement for “unlawfully touting” a cryptocurrency investment.
According to the SEC, the “Above the Law” actor received $250,000 in cash and another $750,000 worth of Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G) to promote B2G on his social media accounts. The government agency found that the actor warned his followers not to “miss out” on B2G’s initial coin offering — which is essentially an IPO but for cryptocurrencies — and issued a press release dubbed “Zen Master Steven Seagal Has Becoe the Brand Ambassador of Bitcoiin2Gen.”
Seagal failed to comply with federal anti-touting laws, according to the SEC, by promoting the coin without disclosing the “nature, scope and amount of compensation received in exchange for” his promotion.
“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,” said Kristina Littman, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit. “Celebrities are not allowed to use their social media influence to tout securities without appropriately disclosing their compensation.”
A quote from Seagal, where he said he “wholeheartedly” endorsed B2G, was also featured in a B2G press release. The press release came out in early 2018 — a few months after Bitcoin had reached $20,000 per coin and the cryptocurrency market was at its peak — claiming B2G was a “more advanced” version.
As part of the settlement, Seagal has agreed to pay $157,000 in disgorgement, to cover his promotional payments and a $157,000 penalty. Seagal is also not allowed to promote any securities for three years; he did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings as part of his settlement.
A rep for Seagal, who rose to fame in the late ’80s and early ’90s starring in action films such as “Under Siege” and “Hard to Kill,” did not immediately respond to a request for comment.