Ripple Lawsuit Sparks Controversy: Examining William Hinman鈥檚 Role in SEC Regulations

  • The 2018 speech of former Director of the Division of Corporation Finance in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), William Hinman, takes center stage in a renewed debate as his ethical conduct becomes a subject for discussion.聽
  • While a General Crypto Counsel at a16z, Miles Jennings, commend him for his clarifications, Ripple鈥檚 CTO David Schwartz, believes that there were serious inconsistencies in his correspondence.聽

The longstanding legal battle between Ripple Labs and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took a new twist when the blockchain company used William Hinman’s speech as a shred of important evidence for providing clarity on how the Commission approaches the regulation of digital assets.

Hinman is a former Director of the Division of Corporation Finance in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). At the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit 2018, he stated emphatically that digital assets should not be considered a security. SEC, having realized how the speech document could impact the case, filed a motion to seal it.

Today, the statement has become a topic of discussion as industry key figures debate the ethical conduct of Hinman.聽

One of the people commending the action of Hinman for clarifying how crypto could fit into existing securities law is Miles Jennings, General Crypto Counsel at a16z. Interestingly, his view was exactly the opposite of those of the XRP community. To them, Hinman is corrupt and must take responsibility for his actions.

Marc Fagel and CTO of Ripple Joined the Discussion

According to Marc Fagel, a former SEC employee, Hinman鈥檚 tenure saw extreme complexities with possible ethical problems associated with it. In addition to that, there have been suspicions of conflict of interest and attunement of the market towards Ethereum, creating huge controversies around him as a person, and the Agency he worked for. Regardless, Fagel commended the spotlight brought to the XRP community.聽

Interestingly, David Schwartz, the CTO of Ripple joined the discussion, questioning the evaluation of Fagel on Hinman鈥檚 role. According to Schwartz, there were inconsistencies in Hinman’s correspondence. This implies that his influence on the evolution of the securities laws must be reconsidered. His position further highlights the ongoing situation within the crypto ecosystem where regulations coincide with the personal and commercial interests of enforcers.

Legal Battle Continues

Drawing an insight from a publication by Crypto News Flash, the regulator recently requested in a court brief that Ripple pay $2 billion in penalties for selling unregistered securities. In a statement by the SEC, the blockchain company has failed to take responsibility for its actions and even ignored legal advice concerning the promotion of XRP as an investment.聽

Ripple] opted for the money it gained by promoting an investment it sold for cash while acting with the apparent fear that the disclosure of its finances and business activities required by the law of those who sell securities would interfere with its profitable plan. Only a significant sanction from this court and the return of the ill-gotten gains Ripple made from its violations will cause Ripple to correct its conduct, either by registering its securities sales and making the disclosures required, or not selling securities.

In response, Ripple鈥檚 chief legal officer Stuart Alderoty criticized the SEC for their relentless pursuit to punish Ripple and intimidate the whole industry rather than applying the rules. Critically commenting on the $2 billion fine, renowned legal expert Jeremy Hogan condemned the Commission. Hogan warned that such a fine would only force Ripple to sell a lot of XRP, which in the long run would only affect the retail investors.聽

At press time, the price of XRP was $0.58 after declining by 6% in the last seven days. The performance of the asset has generally been poor with a year-to-date return of negative 7%.

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