Steven Seagal is a man of many talents. An actor. A musician. A martial artist. A diplomat. A self-proclaimed Zen master. A tank-driver (and, relatedly, a dog-killer). A politician if he has the time (he apparently doesn’t). A threat to Ukrainian national security. And, for a brief moment, a paid shill for a cryptocurrency apparently targeted at meatheads, Russophiles and juggalos called Bitcoiin2Gen.
Back in 2018, Seagal’s 6.7 million Facebook followers were regaled with Seagal’s wholehearted endorsement of B2G’s initial coin offering as its brand ambassador. In exchange, Seagal was to receive $250,000 and $750,000 word of B2G, or, in other words, $250,000.
We’re guessing Seagal didn’t put too much thought into someone offering him the $250,000 equivalent of $1 million to promote something. In fact, we don’t have to guess. His lawyer said as much, calling the B2G deal “simply a case of someone paying a celebrity for the use of his image to promote a product.” And, in fairness to Seagal, putting a lot of thought into it probably wouldn’t have helped, as even those securities lawyers calling themselves cryptocurrency experts don’t even know whether cryptocurrencies are actually securities, and it seems unlikely that Seagal was paying much attention when, six months before vouching B2G, the SEC had decided that ICOs are very much subject to securities laws, and one of those laws say that paid celebrity endorsers of ICOs have to make clear just how much they were paid (again, in this case, $250,000 and $750,000 worth of worthless “stuff”). And so Steven Seagal is going to have to find other ways to make six figures by throwing up a few Facebook posts for a while.
"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."
The SEC's order finds that Seagal violated the anti-touting provisions of the federal securities laws. Without admitting or denying the SEC's findings, Seagal agreed to pay $157,000 in disgorgement, which represents his actual promotional payments, plus prejudgment interest, and a $157,000 penalty. In addition, Seagal agreed not to promote any securities, digital or otherwise, for three years.
Which is certainly disappointing, but not half as disappointing as Segal’s realization that he was dealing with people significantly less enlightened than himself.
Mr. Seagal eventually became “concerned with the bona fides of the product” and terminated his relationship with the company. He was only paid part of the agreed-upon fee.
You don't say.