The Securities and Exchange Commission says it has settled with actor Steven Seagal for not disclosing payments he received for promoting an initial coin offering from Bitcoiin2Gen in a spot touting him as the “Zen Master.”
Seagal agreed to disgorge $157,000 of the pay he received, plus interest payments and a $157,000 penalty. The SEC said Seagal touted the B2G coin to his roughly 107,000 Twitter followers and his 6.7 million Facebook followers without telling them he was being paid by the company to promote it.
Seagal posted to his social media accounts touting the coin, encouraging the public to not “miss out” on the coin, according to a press release titled “Zen Master Steven Seagal Has Become the Brand Ambassador of Bitcoiin2Gen,” the SEC said.
The entity controlling B2G, which described the coins as the “the next generation of Bitcoin,” had promised Seagal $250,000 in cash and $750,000 worth of B2G
tokens in exchange for his publicity, the SEC said.
Seagal starred in dozens of movies showcasing his martial arts chops. In 1988’s “Above the Law” he was Nico Toscani, a good cop fighting corrupt federal intelligence agents, and in 1992’s “Under Siege” he was Casey Ryback, a ship’s cook who thwarts a terrorist plot aboard a U.S. battleship.
Now 67, the “Exit Wounds” star resides in Moscow, according to the SEC’s cease-and-desist order. Seagal is also in a “playful rather than dazzling” blues band, according to a Guardian review of a performance on the band’s 2014 world tour.
The SEC found that Seagal violated the anti-touting provisions of securities laws.
“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.”