NBA Hall of Famer Hit With SEC Fine for Cryptocurrency Promotion

Paul Pierce was fined $1.4 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for improperly promoting EMAX tokens on Twitter.

A National Basketball Association Hall of Fame player, Paul Pierce, was fined $1.4 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle the agency’s charges that he touted and made misleading comments about EMAX tokens while being compensated.

Pierce, who was nicknamed “The Truth” during his career with the Boston Celtics, did not admit or deny the allegations in his settlement with the SEC.

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The SEC alleged that Pierce made the comments about EthereumMax tokens on Twitter. He did not mention that he received $244,000 for making the statements.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has said that the cryptocurrency industry “is not incompatible with the securities laws.”

EthereumMax, also known as EMAX, is the same virtual currency that the executive and reality-TV star Kim Kardashian was fined $1.3 million in October for promoting.

EMAX satisfies the definition of a security and the issuer could not offer it to potential investors without registering it with the agency, the SEC said.

Pierce posted a screenshot of an investing account that had large holdings of EMAX along with its profits. But Pierce’s personal holdings were actually lower, the SEC said.

Another tweet from Pierce included a link to the EthereumMax website that included instructions on how the EMAX tokens could be purchased, the regulatory agency said.

“This case is yet another reminder to celebrities: The law requires you to disclose to the public from whom and how much you are getting paid to promote investment in securities, and you can’t lie to investors when you tout a security,” Gensler said in a statement. 

“When celebrities endorse investment opportunities, including crypto asset securities, investors should be careful to research if the investments are right for them, and they should know why celebrities are making those endorsements.”

Pierce violated the anti-touting and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, the SEC said. He agreed to pay a $1.115 million penalty and $240,000 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

Pierce agreed for the next three years not to promote any crypto assets.

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