SEC busts VanEck for using Dave Portnoy to pump BUZZ ETF

VanEck Associates has agreed to pay $1.75 million to resolve allegations from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that “it failed to disclose a social media influencer’s role in the launch of its new exchange-traded fund.” 

The ETF in question was the ‘BUZZ’ ETF, which tracked an index of companies that had significant buzz on social media. The SEC order claims that “The Influencer’s planned involvement and the details of the anticipated licensing arrangement were not disclosed to the independent trustees of the VanEck ETF Trust.” 

Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, who has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by several women, was also a part owner of Buzz Holdings, the company that owned the index the BUZZ ETF was based on. The SEC order notes that the influencer involved in this scheme was known for “commenting on sports, investing, and other topics.” 

Portnoy has described the ETF as the “most underrated symbol in the game.”

Portnoy has a history with cryptocurrency, including promoting cryptocurrency projects that frequently lie, such as SafeMoon.

Portnoy has a history of promoting questionable crypto projects.

Despite publicly promoting cryptocurrency investments, Portnoy often seemed to not understand the basics, at one point taking to X to ask, “If I bought bitcoins through FTX and FTX goes belly up where do they go? Like Bitcoins are finite right? Does anybody have access to them or are they just lost in the ether or something forever?”

He also sold an NFT related to his pizza reviews, which was sold for 50 ether to MachiBigBrother. There are no offers for this NFT now. 

Today Portnoy took to X to lament the fact that he has “fucked himself” with Bitcoin, perhaps by storing them on FTX. He’s not mentioned the ETF since June of 2021. 

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