The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must surrender an email with a draft of former director William Hinman’s speech on whether ether is a security to Ripple in an ongoing lawsuit the regulatory agency filed against the crypto startup, a judge ruled Thursday.
The SEC sued Ripple and members of its leadership at the end of 2020 on charges it sold and continues to sell the XRP cryptocurrency in violation of federal securities law. The agency and Ripple have been involved in a protracted back-and-forth over what sort of documents must be made available through the discovery process, with Ripple seeking a number of documents detailing internal SEC communications and policies.
SEC attorneys, for their part, have claimed that these documents contain staffer deliberations, and therefore are protected against discovery. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn, of the Southern District of New York, ruled that some of these documents are indeed protected, but ordered the regulator to turn over others, including an email with Hinman’s speech and some notes from meetings between SEC staffers and third parties that are not Ripple.
“We’re pleased with the Court’s order, which grants Ripple access to important documents that the SEC was withholding. We will continue to aggressively defend this case – and we remain optimistic that resolution of this case will provide much needed clarity to the industry,” Ripple General Counsel Stu Alderoty said.
The SEC did not respond to a CoinDesk request for comment.
An email of a draft of a 2018 speech by former Director of Corporation Finance Hinman is included in the list of documents to be surrendered. Hinman gave the speech in June 2018, telling the audience at a conference that in his view, ether was not a security.
The speech was seen as pivotal for the crypto industry, given the first 60 million ether (the native token of the poducts based on the cryptocurrency.
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