The animated series Stoner Cats, starring Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, has been fined $1m (£806,200) by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for “conducting an unregistered offering of crypto asset securities”.
Stoner Cats, which follows a group of cats as they take care of their marijuana-smoking owner who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was funded by $8m (£6.4m) made from selling over 10,000 non-fungible tokens (NFTS).
The series – released in 2021 – violated the Securities Act of 1993 “by offering and selling these crypto asset securities to the public in an unregistered offering that was not exempt from registration”, a press release from the SEC said,
At the time of raising funds, the show’s marketing team reportedly “highlighted specific benefits of owning them, including the option for owners to resell their NFTs on the secondary market” for higher profit, the statement added.
In doing so, it also leveraged its “expertise as Hollywood producers, its knowledge of crypto projects, and the well-known actors involved in the web series, leading investors to expect profits because a successful web series could cause the resale value of the Stoner Cats NFTs in the secondary market to rise”.
“Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, SC2 agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay a civil penalty of $1 million,” the release continued. “The order establishes a Fair Fund to return monies that injured investors paid to purchase the NFTs. SC2 also agreed to destroy all NFTs in its possession or control and publish notice of the order on its website and social media channels.”
“Registration of securities, including crypto asset securities, protects investors by providing them with disclosures so they can make informed investing decisions,” Carolyn Welshhans, Associate Director of the SEC’s Home Office, said in the statement. “Stoner Cats wanted all the benefits of offering and selling a security to the public but ignored the legal responsibilities that come with doing so.”
Created by Ash Brannon (Rock Dog), Chris Cartagena, and Sarah Cole, Stoner Cats also features Chris Rock, Dax Shepherd, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jane Fonda, Michael Bublé, Seth MacFarlane and Vitalik Buterin.
Kunis is also listed as one of the series’ producers.
This revelation comes days after Kutcher, 45, and Kunis, 40, put out an apology video after they were condemned for writing letters of support for convicted rapist Danny Masterson, who was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.
“We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Kutcher said in the clip, which was posted on their social media accounts.
Kunis added: “We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future.”