SEC Sues Ripple, Garlinghouse and Larsen

On the last day of Jay Clayton’s tenure as SEC Chairman, the SEC files its bombshell enforcement action against Ripple Labs and its two senior executives, alleging that XRP has been an unregistered security since 2013. The price of XRP plummets and exchanges begin to suspend trading, causing panic selling and a loss of $15 billion in value to retail investors and project developers using the XRP Ledger. The SEC would go on to allege in its amended complaint that XRP has no utility other than as an investment contract in Ripple, and all market participants should have known it was a security from 2013 to the present date. (Unlike with ether, there was never an ICO for XRP.)

The SEC would later attempt to disown any notion that the June 2018 Hinman speech represented market guidance of any kind and was merely his personal opinion. In an affidavit supporting the SEC’s motion to stop him from being deposed in the case, Hinman said that speech “was intended to express my own personal views.” (The motion failed, and the judge ordered Hinman to be deposed.)

The SEC was also forced to admit in court that it had never opened an investigation into whether ether was an unregistered security. Ether was issued in an ICO and later sold in enormous sums by the Ethereum Foundation for speculative purposes to investors, including Joseph Lubin’s college roommate.