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Actor Steven Seagal settles SEC charges over cryptocurrency promotion

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Actor Steven Seagal, seen here in 2016, has settled SEC charges accusing him of not disclosing payment for the promotion of a cryptocurrency investment. (MGN/The Kremlin / CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday it has settled a case against actor Steven Seagal for not disclosing payments received for promoting a cryptocurrency investment opportunity.

According to the SEC, the action film star was promised $1 million in cash and virtual tokens for serving as a brand ambassador for BitCoiin2Gen, posting social media messages urging the public not to miss out on the company’s initial coin offering.

A February 2018 BitCoiin2Gen press release announcing “Zen Master” Steven Seagal’s role with the company included a quote from the star of "Under Siege," "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory," and other films, claiming he endorsed the ICO “wholeheartedly.”

"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. "Celebrities are not allowed to use their social media influence to tout securities without appropriately disclosing their compensation."

An SEC order filed Thursday states that Seagal violated anti-touting provisions of federal securities laws and has agreed to pay $157,000 in disgorgement. Seagal does not admit or deny the allegations, but he has agreed not to promote any other securities for three years.

“Mr. Seagal was not involved in the creation of this product, nor did he have any prior relationship with the individuals who approached him To him, it was simply a case of someone paying a celebrity for the use of his image to promote a product,” Christopher Nassif, a spokesman for the actor, said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

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