Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a statement on the potentially unlawful promotion of initial coin offerings and other investment by celebrities.
Along with the Federal Trade Commission, the SEC’s Enforcement Division and Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations are keenly aware that celebrities and others are using social media networks to encourage the public to purchase stocks and other investments. These endorsements may be unlawful if they do not disclose the nature, source and amount of any compensation paid, directly or indirectly, by the company in exchange for the endorsement.
According to the SEC, celebrities and others have recently promoted investments in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). In the SEC’s Report of Investigation, the Commission warned that virtual tokens or coins sold in ICOs may be securities, and those who offer and sell securities in the United States must comply with the federal securities laws.
A failure to make required disclosures is a violation of the anti-touting provisions of the federal securities laws.
Persons making these endorsements may also be liable for potential violations of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, for participating in an unregistered offer and sale of securities, and for acting as unregistered brokers.
Alongside the FTC’s efforts to police paid influencer campaigns, the SEC will continue to focus on these types of promotions to protect investors and to ensure compliance with the securities laws.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about compliant influencer campaign practices or are the subject of a regulatory investigation.
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