Steven Seagal has agreed to pay $314,000 to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges related to a bitcoin offering that the actor touted on his social media channels.
Seagal failed to disclose that he was promised more than $250,000 in cash and another $750,000 worth of bitcoin tokens for talking up an bitcoin offering from Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G), the SEC said Thursday. In social media posts, Seagal urged his followers not to “miss out” on the B2G opportunity, and he also lent his name to a press release headlined “Zen Master Steven Seagal Has Become the Brand Ambassador of Bitcoiin2Gen,” according to the commission.
Seagal’s actions violated federal “anti-touting” laws that require celebrities to “disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received” in exchange for promoting a virtual token or coin that functions as a security. Seagal has not admitted or denied the SEC’s findings. A representative for the actor could not immediately be reached for comment.
“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.”
Seagal will pay $157,000, which the SEC said was the amount he received from B2G, plus a penalty of $157,000. He also agreed to refrain from promoting any kind of securities for three years. The SEC said its investigation was continuing.
Seagal gained fame as the star of a slew of hit action-adventure movies in the late 1980s and ’90s. But he’s made more news lately for his brushes with the law than for his acting work. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office investigated allegations of sexual assault against Seagal in 2018 but opted not to pursue charges. In a statement at the time, Seagal attorney Anthony Falangetti called the allegations “completely fictitious.”