By Roslyn Layton, PhD. June 13, 2023. (DC Journal).
In February, I filed a motion to intervene in SEC v. Ripple Labs, the first big crypto enforcement action filed in December 2020 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I have written two dozen stories about the serious implications of the case, particularly on the sweeping regulatory overreach at the heart of the SEC’s arguments and the naked power grab it represents.
The agency spent most of the last two years fighting Ripple’s attempts to obtain internal SEC emails and documents on the drafting of a 2018 speech given by then-Director of Corporation Finance William Hinman where he introduced a long list of “what we look at” when determining whether a digital asset is a security.
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By Roslyn Layton. July 17, 2022. (Forbes)
On July 12, the U.S. District Court rejected the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) request to withhold documents on the so-called Hinman speech of 2018. In a highly anticipated ruling in the ongoing SEC v. Ripple case, Magistrate Sarah Netburn denied the SEC’s motion citing attorney-client and deliberate process privileges. The judge slammed the agency for hiding documents which could answer questions in front of the court. She called the behavior so egregious that it impugns the agency’s “faithful allegiance to the law.”
Congress should heed her forceful, deliberate words. The House Financial Services Committee holds an oversight hearing on the SEC Enforcement Division next Tuesday. Chairwoman Maxine Waters can ask them directly where their allegiance lies– with the public and the law—-or their own personal interest.
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By Elise Hansen. May 16, 2022. (Law360)
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission can’t use attorney-client privilege to shield early drafts of former official Bill Hinman’s speech about cryptocurrencies, since Hinman gave the speech in his personal capacity, Ripple Labs told a New York federal court.
Attorney-client privilege doesn’t cover communications about Hinman’s personal remarks, and Hinman can’t be considered a “client” of the SEC’s attorneys for activities outside his official duties, Ripple and its executives argued Friday.
The letter was the latest shot in the discovery battle between the SEC and Ripple after the agency accused the blockchain-based payments company and its executives of violating federal securities laws in their sales of Ripple’s signature digital asset, XRP.
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By Empowr Oversight. May 10, 2022. (Empowr)
WASHINGTON — Empower Oversight sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC-OIG) requesting a comprehensive review of the SEC’s ethics officials to properly manage SEC official William Hinman’s potential conflict of interest regarding cryptocurrency issues. The letter describes in detail instructions that the SEC’s Ethics Office provided to Mr. Hinman and actions by Mr. Hinman that are inconsistent with the instructions.
Specifically, records that were disclosed to Empower Oversight in response to an August 12, 2021, FOIA request show that the SEC’s Ethics Office cautioned Mr. Hinman that he had a direct financial interest in his former law firm, Simpson Thacher, and thus, he needed to recuse himself from any matters that would affect the firm; and, lest he may have misunderstood its position, the Ethics Office explicitly told him not to have any contact with Simpson Thacher personnel. Further, the Ethics Office provided Mr. Hinman with a draft memorandum, which was to be issued under his name, that established a screening arrangement to ensure that he complied with his obligation to recuse himself from certain matters with which he had a financial interest, or a personal or business relationship.
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