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Kim Kardashian's $1.26 million sponcon fine is a warning shot to stop shady crypto shilling

Mashable 10/3/2022 Matt Binder

Kim K is used to getting paid for her Instagram posts. But now she's the one paying.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has hit reality TV personality Kim Kardashian with a $1.26 million fine for hawking crypto securities on Instagram without disclosing the partnership and payment she received for the promotion. 

The Monday morning press release from the SEC said Kardashian was paid $250,000 to promote the EMAX tokens, a crypto asset security sold by EthereumMax. According to the SEC, Kardashian was paid by EthereumMax through an undisclosed intermediary. The SEC charges stem from unlawfully touting the crypto without disclosing to her followers that she was being paid to do so.

The Instagram post from Kim Kardashian that resulted in her fine. © Provided by Mashable The Instagram post from Kim Kardashian that resulted in her fine.

Kardashian had 225 million Instagram followers at the time of her crypto promotion in June 2021.

"This case is a reminder that, when celebrities or influencers endorse investment opportunities, including crypto asset securities, it doesn’t mean that those investment products are right for all investors," SEC chair Gary Gensler said in a statement that was published alongside an SEC video on celebrity investment endorsements. "We encourage investors to consider an investment’s potential risks and opportunities in light of their own financial goals."

Kardashian agreed to pay the $1.26 million "without admitting or denying" the findings of the SEC's investigation. The $1.26 million settlement includes a $1 million penalty as well as payment for disgorgement and interest. In addition, Kardashian agreed to not promote any crypto for three years. She also will cooperate with the SEC's ongoing investigation of EthereumMax's crypto asset securities. 

The hammer seems to finally be dropping on celebrities who promoted cryptocurrency to their followers on social media. The SEC's statement regarding an ongoing investigation more than hints at the possibility that additional celebrities who promoted EMAX tokens may be fined as well. There is currently a class action lawsuit against Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather, and Paul Pierce for promoting EthereumMax's crypto securities. 

"The federal securities laws are clear that any celebrity or other individual who promotes a crypto asset security must disclose the nature, source, and amount of compensation they received in exchange for the promotion," Gurbir S. Grewal, SEC director of division of enforcement, said in a statement. "Investors are entitled to know whether the publicity of a security is unbiased, and Ms. Kardashian failed to disclose this information."

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