Former action film actor Steven Seagal is in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The “Above the Law” and “Under Siege” star has agreed to pay more than $300,000 in penalties to the agency to settle the fact that he failed to disclose to agents that he had been paid a hefty sum to promote a cryptocurrency venture.
Steven Seagal Hit Hard by the SEC
Federal securities laws are in place that require celebrities to reveal any and all payments they might receive for touting, promoting or pushing cryptocurrency-based investments and enterprises. Current regulation states specifically:
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.
The SEC claims that Seagal failed to tell anyone how much money he was making for promoting an initial coin offering (ICO) that occurred in 2017 through the hands of a company called Bitcoiin2Gen – a time when initial coin offerings were under heavy scrutiny from the SEC given that most of these offerings could potentially be labeled securities.
It has been disclosed at press time that the 67-year-old action star garnered a check of more than $250,000 and received more than $750,000 in B2G tokens, which were being sold through the offering, in exchange for his promotional services. Thus, Seagal garnered at least $1 million for his work and dedication to the company.
He has agreed to forfeit up to $314,000, though he has not admitted to, nor denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Seagal used social media platforms to tell people not to “miss out” on the latest token opportunity. His presence was also heavily promoted through a press release that circulated online. The release suggested that Seagal was serving as an official brand ambassador to the company.
Aside from the financial punishment he has incurred, Seagal has agreed not to promote any securities, either physical or digital, for the next three years.
Kristina Littman – chief of the SEC enforcement division’s cyber unit – explained 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 for touting securities without appropriately disclosing their compensation.
A Switch in Perspective
At the time of writing, the SEC says it is still investigating a possible case against Bitcoiin2Gen.
Seagal has, over the past few years, turned away from his career as an actor and filmmaker and has served as a sheriff’s deputy in areas such as Louisiana, West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. His duties and actions as a lawman have been documented in the A&E and Reelz television program “Steven Seagal: Lawman,” which premiered in 2009.