The SEC recently announced its settlement of charges against boxer Floyd Mayweather and producer DJ Khaled for their failure to disclose payments they received for promoting Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) on their social media accounts.
The federal securities laws contain an “anti-touting provision,” which regulates paid promotions of securities offerings. Specifically, Section 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 makes it unlawful for a person to “publish, give publicity to, or circulate any notice…or communication which, though not purporting to offer a security for sale, describes such security for a consideration received or to be received…without fully disclosing the receipt, whether past or prospective, of such consideration and the amount thereof.” Importantly, the provision applies even to those not directly offering a security for sale. The SEC’s orders instituting cease-and-desist proceedings against Mayweather and Khaled both cited violations of Section 17(b).
According to the charges, Mayweather failed to disclose $300,000 he received from three ICO issuers. He received $100,000 from Centra Tech Inc. for posting on his social media accounts that “Centra’s…ICO starts in a few hours. Get yours before they sell out, I got mine and as usual I’m going to win big with this one!” Mayweather promoted ICOs on his social media accounts a number of other times and even dubbed himself “Floyd Crypto Mayweather” in one post (not to be confused with his usual moniker, Floyd “Money” Mayweather). Khaled also received $50,000 from Centra for posts calling Centra an “ultimate winner” and a “game changer.” Centra has been the subject of its own SEC scrutiny, with the SEC filing a civil action against Centra’s founders and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filing corresponding criminal charges.