Ripple has won a ruling compelling the SEC to release emails related to the speech in which a former agency official concluded that Ethereum is not a security.
The federal judge is out decision On Thursday, the SEC’s statement failed to say that emails related to a speech on Ethereum in 2018 were privileged material.
The speech in question was given by former senior SEC official William Hinman, who stated that Ethereum was not a security because it was decentralized enough.
That speech was also at the center of the lawsuit, in which the SEC argues that Ripple and its top executives knew XRP should be registered as a security with the agency but remained open and sold it to the public.
As part of its regulatory strategy, Ripple tried to gather evidence that Hinman ruled that Ethereum is not a security.
This evidence could help the company rebut the SEC’s claims about the nature of XRP.
Other documents Ripple may have mined include notes from Valerie Szczepanik, the SEC’s crypto expert, on a number of considerations, as well as emails discussing Hinman and other drafts of the speech.
The SEC has argued that the documents are “privileged,” a legal term that means that one party does not have to share them with their opponent in the case. The SEC has relied on attorney-at-law as well as other types of privileges set up to protect government agencies in certain situations.
US District Court judge Sarah Netburn agreed that the SEC was not required to publish certain documents, but dismissed the agency’s case for more than 10 other types of documents. In the case of an email about Hinman’s speech, Netburn concluded that such a privilege did not apply because the speech was made by his personal views and not those of the agency.
Here’s the crucial part of the decision:
“Although Hinman and the SEC acknowledge that agency officials spoke about his speech, the speech appears to have had no impact on actual policy-making (Tigue, 312 F Cent P’Schiff, 166 F.3d at 482). E-mails for speeches or manuscripts are therefore not legally protected agency documents. “
Netburn’s decision gives Ripple a new opportunity to be used in both criticism and public inquiry, where many, particularly in the crypto industry, believe the SEC has been too strict on the public company.
However, the judgment is of a procedural nature and has nothing to do with the final outcome of whether or not XRP is a security.
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