Steven Seagal's "action hero" status may have waned a bit since the Under Siege days, but the actor still finds himself in the headlines quite a bit, often for odd or disturbing reasons. The latest headline is no exception: Seagal has been charged with unlawfully promoting cryptocurrency without revealing that he was receiving said cryptocurrency in exchange. Back in 2017, per Engadget, Seagal touted Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G) on his social media platforms, and also put out a press release amusingly titled, "Zen Master Steven Seagal Has Become the Brand Ambassador of Bitcoiin2Gen." What he didn't mention: He was promised $250,000 in cash and $750,000 worth of B2G tokens in exchange for endorsing the 2018 initial coin offering (similar to an IPO) of B2G, per the Hollywood Reporter and Yahoo Finance.
According to the "anti-touting" provisions of federal securities law, "any celebrity or other individual who promotes a virtual token or coin that is a security must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion." Seagal settled with the SEC without admitting wrongdoing; per CNN, he agreed to pay back the $157,000 he received, more than $16,000 in interest, and a $157,000 penalty. He also will not promote any securities for three years. "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," says the chief of the SEC enforcement division’s cyber unit. B2G has courted controversy in other ways; Tennessee warned its residents about the cryptocurrency (which fought allegations that it was a pyramid scheme) and New Jersey ordered it to cease and desist after it failed to register as a security. (Read more Steven Seagal stories.)