Former NBA champion Paul Pierce has agreed to pay over $1.4 million in penalties after unlawfully promoting the EthereumMax (EMAX) cryptocurrency to his Twitter audience. In a statement published on Friday, the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against the former Boston Celtics player — nicknamed ‘The Truth’ — for making “false and misleading” statements about EMAX and failing to disclose that he was paid more than $244,000 worth of EMAX tokens to promote the cryptocurrency to his social media following.
In one example of his illicit activity, the commission claims that Pierce tweeted a misleading screenshot of an account displaying significant EMAX holdings and profits without disclosing that the image did not represent his own personal holdings. Pierce agreed to pay the settlement “without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings,” according to the SEC commission, and has additionally agreed to not promote any crypto assets for three years.
“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,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “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.”
EMAX is a digital “culture token” launched in May 2021 that’s built on the Ethereum blockchain. Despite raising a number of red flags, the crypto was swiftly promoted by a number of high-profile celebrities within weeks of being launched. Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather Jr have also come under fire for their role in promoting Emax, with Kardashian similarly paying a $1.26 million fine in October last year for failing to disclose that she was paid to promote the currency.