The long legal battle of Ripple with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took another turn: the company gained the right to access a highly contested document containing statements by a SEC official that ethereum (ETH) is a title or not.
The document contains the text of a 2018 speech that was given by a former senior SEC official named William Hinman. The latter, in the speech, explained that ETH could not be classified as a stock due to the fact that it was suitably decentralized.
The SEC accused Ripple officials of selling the XRP token as an unregistered stock, a claim Ripple executives deny. Any kind of SEC admission that ETH is not a stock, Ripple’s legal team argues, would help their case.
In a ruling, Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn, of the New York Southern District Court, said the SEC can no longer argue that the document and the emails associated with it are “privileged documents” – which means that the Ripple team will be able to use it as evidence just in case.
Hinman shared his thoughts on the content of the speech in the emails, and the SEC argued that the exchange was “merely peripheral to actual policy formation,” and therefore “privileged.” But Netburn ruled that “e-mails regarding the speech or drafts are neither pre-decision nor agency deliberative documents that are entitled to protection.”
He also pointed out that:
“The personal opinions of agency employees are not protected by privilege unless they relate to the formulation or exercise of policy-oriented judgment.”
However, Netburn supported the SEC’s request to deny access to a number of other documents the Ripple team had requested, and seemed to suggest that some of Hinman’s claims in the emails were based on “opinions”.
Ripple lawyer accuses SEC of “gambling illegally”
Ripple failed in its efforts, for example, in forcing the court to grant it access to communications between then-head of the SEC crypto section Valerie Szczepanik and a Treasury Department official, as well as a presentation by Szczepanik to Michael. Piwowar, the former SEC commissioner.
Meanwhile, one of Ripple’s executives’ attorneys, Stuart Alderoty, targeted the SEC on Twitter, accusing the agency of trying to drag the trial.
Ripple hopes for a quick resolution, but Alderoty says the SEC wants to make sure the case drags on for as long as possible. Reacting to a speech by current SEC chief Gary Gensler, the attorney wrote that the SEC was playing “the card of delay and was using it to its advantage.”
Alderoty he wrote:
“‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ How about publicly pledging to proceed with the Ripple case as quickly as possible, no more delays?
Alderoty accused the SEC of using “enforcement regulation to create an uneven playing field” and “choosing winners and losers based on opaque rules they invent as the case progresses.”
A group of XRP token holders also tried to enter the lawsuit, arguing that their views are not represented in the trial – despite the SEC’s rejection.
At 08:18 UTC, XRP is trading at $ 0.779 and is down more than 2% in one day, increasing its weekly losses to nearly 8%. The price is still up 154% in one year.
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