Kim Kardashian’s aspirations to become a lawyer could be jeopardized by charges mounted by the Security and Exchange Commission related to an alleged “pump and dump” scheme, experts say.
The reality television star and social media influencer agreed to pay $1.2 million in penalties and to cooperate with the SEC’s ongoing investigation into allegations that she promoted EMAX crypto tokens on Instagram in June 2021 without also letting her millions of followers know she was paid $250,000 for the plug.
In paying the SEC settlement, the 41-year-old “Kardashians” star didn’t admit or deny any wrongdoing, the commission said in an announcement.
Former New York prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney Duncan Levin told The Post that Kardashian will likely be questioned about the SEC case if she tries to become a member of the bar – since aspiring lawyers must not only take the bar exam but frequently must also go before a character committee.
“This is a very serious issue,” said Levin of firm Levin & Associates, PLLC. “This is a violation of securities laws and when aspiring lawyers go before the bar they are judged on their character … this is most certainly something that would come up if she were to try to get admission to the bar.”
“This might not ultimately stop her from becoming a member of the bar, but it is likely to raise a flag that must be dealt with,” Levin said.
Kardashian – who in December after four attempts passed California’s First-Year Law Students’ Examination or the “baby bar” – wants to become a lawyer to fight for prison reform.
In California to become a lawyer you must take the bar, undergo a background check and in some cases attend an “informal conference with State Bar staff” – if the background check turns up information “that raises questions about whether the applicant meets the standard of good moral character,” according to the State Bar of California website.
“Lawyers are trusted with enormous responsibilities, not only over people’s lives but are often asked to escrow people’s funds and engage in complex financial transactions for their clients,” Levin said.
“I think this is the screening method by which the bar can ask questions of people who perhaps have criminal convictions or bankruptcies or other issues in their past that may need explaining,” Levin said.
Levin said that he’s heard of bar applicants who’ve had trouble getting through the character part of the bar for “very minor issues” including one person with an “infraction related to marijuana and this is obviously much more serious.”
“It’s not to say that if you have a conviction you can’t become a member of the bar but it’s a way that the committee can ask additional questions,” he added.
Still, Levin acknowledged the SEC is “clearly trying to make an example of her with such a hefty fine.”
“A million [dollar] fine on this is quite large,” he said.
California defense attorney and former Los Angeles prosecutor Joshua Ritter told The Post that the SEC charges are “not going to make things easier for [Kardashian].”
“Everybody who gets a legal license has to go through a fairly extensive background check, and I would say that even a negotiated settlement with SEC where no liability was admitted would still likely trigger further investigation by the bar,” Ritter said.
And even though Kardashian didn’t admit any wrongdoing in the SEC settlement, “matters are complicated by the fact that the cryptocurrency she was promoting is under investigation as a pump-and-dump fraud scheme,” Ritter said.
“It’s one thing to run afoul of the SEC guidelines in a technical respect, but it’s another thing when the underlying securities you’re promoting may be fraudulent,” Ritter added.
Still, Ritter says it’s unlikely the SEC case would make Kardashian fail the background check.
“It’s rare that they would not pass someone,” Ritter said. “The applicant would have to demonstrate a serious moral character issue.”
“I think for a single technical error that does not lead to criminal charges, it would not prevent her from passing the background check,” Ritter said.
Kardashian and former boxer Floyd Mayweather were sued earlier this year in a California class-action complaint filed by New Yorker Ryan Huegerich claiming they made “false or misleading statements” about EthereumMax’s EMAX tokens as part of a “pump and dump” scheme.
A rep for Kardashian didn’t immediately return a request for comment.