The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday said it had settled charges against Steven Seagal over the actor's failing to disclose he was being paid to pitch investing in an initial coin offering.
The "Above the Law" star did not disclose he was promised $250,000 in cash and $750,000 worth of Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G) tokens for promoting the cryptocurrency offering, the SEC said in statement. Seagal's pitches included posts on his public social media accounts urging consumers not to "miss out" on Bitcoiin's ICO, as well as a 2018 press release announcing that "Zen Master Steven Seagal Has Become the Brand Ambassador of Bitcoiin2Gen."
"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.
The actor's promotional work for Bitcoiin2Gen came a few months after the SEC issued a report categorizing ICOs, or initial coin offerings, as securities. Under federal law, anybody who pitches a "virtual token or coin" must also disclose if and how they are being compensated to promote it, which Seagal failed to do, the SEC said.
Without admitting or denying the SEC's findings, Seagal agreed to pay back $157,000, the amount he received for pitching the digital coin, plus more than $16,000 in interest. He will also pay a fine of another $157,000 and has agreed not to promote any securities, digital or otherwise, for three years.