In brief

  • The SEC fined Steven Seagal for promoting an ICO without disclosing payments.
  • Seagal has to pay $157,000 back to Bitcoiin2Gen, and a $157,000 penalty.
  • Bitcoiin2Gen, a purported "utility" coin, is now worthless and appears to have since been abandoned.

Actor and martial artist Steven Seagal can dodge a punch, but not the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC today announced that the “Zen Master” has agreed to pay over $300,000 in penalties after failing to disclose that he was being paid for promoting an ICO

According to the SEC, Seagal didn’t tell prospective investors that failed “utility” coin Bitcoiin2Gen (B2G) promised to pay him $250,000 in cash and $750,000 worth of B2G tokens if he became its brand ambassador. Following the SEC settlement, Seagal agreed to pay $157,000 in disgorgement, which represents what he actually got paid (the token’s now worthless, at $0.00017770), and a $157,000 penalty.

"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.

As part of the deal, Seagal hyped up the project on his social media, and featured in a February 2018 press release titled “Zen Master Steven Seagal Has Become the Brand Ambassador of Bitcoiin2Gen.”

The seemingly hastily written press release reads thus: “As a Buddhist, Zen teacher, and healer, Steven lives by the principles that the development of the physical self is essential to protect the spiritual man. He believes that what he does in his life is about leading people into contemplation to wake them up and enlighten them in some manner.”

It continues: “These are precisely the objectives of the Bitcoiin2Gen to empower the community by providing a decentralized P2P payment system with its own wallet, mining ecosystem and robust blockchain platform without the need of any third party.”

In the press release after the one mentioning Steven Seagal, Bitcoiin2Gen responded to allegations by the State of Tennessee that it had run an unregistered security sale. Bitcoiin2Gen’s final press release, dated April 2018, was its launch on Thorex.net, a now defunct crypto exchange. Bitcoiin2Gen, too, has since been abandoned. Only around $50 worth of the coin was traded in the past 24 hours, according to data metrics site CoinGecko.

The SEC has cracked down on other celebrities pushing crypto projects. Rapper DJ Khaled and boxer Floyd Mayweather were fined for failing to disclose payments for an ICO for Centra Tech, which resulted in a combined fine of ‭$767,500‬.

But if the dated press release is anything to go by, Seagal won’t be too fussed by the recent result: “Zen Master, Steven mentioned an old Chinese saying ‘Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate,’ by Chuang Tsu,” it reads.