US securities regulators have fined boxer Floyd Mayweather hundreds of thousands of dollars for touting cryptocurrency investments without revealing that he was paid to do so.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said the case was its first to involve touting violations for cryptocurrencies.
Mayweather publicly promoted initial coin offerings (ICOs) — in which investors trade cash or other digital currencies for units of to-be-launched cryptocurrencies — without disclosing that they had been paid to do so by issuers including Centra Tech Inc, according to the SEC.
Centra Tech’s co-founders were indicted on federal fraud charges in May.
According to the SEC, Mayweather used social media to trumpet the ICO’s value, telling Twitter users: “Get yours before they sell out. I got mine.”
He neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s allegations.
Stephanie Avakian, co-chief of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement that the settlements underscored the need for full disclosure to investors.
“With no disclosure about the payments, Mayweather ICO promotion may have appeared to be unbiased, rather than paid endorsements,” she said.
Mayweather will pay a $300,000 penalty, along with more than $300,000 in disgorgement, or the return of ill-gotten gains, and interest.
The SEC last year warned that the digital currencies sold in ICOs may be treated as securities and those offering and selling them had to comply with US securities laws.
Under current Chairman Jay Clayton, the SEC has focused on cryptocurrencies and retail investment fraud, with critics saying the agency has at the same time sharply reduced overall enforcement against major financial institutions.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)