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SEC’s request to seal documents in the Ripple Labs case has sparked criticism from the community.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has requested to seal the infamous Hinman Speech documents, claiming that they are not relevant to the court’s summary judgment decision.

The Motion to Seal Summary Judgment Document was filed by the SEC on Dec. 22, requesting the sealing of various information and documents, most notably the Hinman Speech documents.

The Hinman Speech documents refer to the speech given by former SEC Corporation Finance Division Director William Hinman at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in June 2018, where he reportedly stated that Ether (ETH), the native token of the Ethereum blockchain, is not a security.

Ripple believes it is a vital piece of evidence to help them with its case against the U.S. regulator.

In its latest motion, the SEC said its mission outweighs the “public’s right” to access documents that have “no relevance” to the Court’s summary judgment decision.

It also requested that any references to the Hinman Speech Documents be “redacted” from the papers of the defendants.

The SEC’s request has sparked criticism from the crypto community, with one user suggesting that the SEC chairman Gary Gensler has a hidden agenda:

The document also requested to seal information relating to the SEC’s expert witnesses and XRP investors that submitted declarations, as well as internal SEC documents reflecting debate and deliberation by SEC officials.

It comes only weeks after Ripple Labs filed its final submission against SEC on Dec. 2, meaning the two-year legal battle may soon come to an end. 

Related: SEC can’t confirm if video of Bill Hinman is actually Bill Hinman in Ripple case

Ripple had confirmed on Oct. 21 that it had access to the Hinman Speech Documents after 18 months and six court orders, though the documents still remained confidential at the SEC’s insistence.

The SEC was previously denied by the courts to keep Hinman documents a secret, with the U.S. judge calling out the SEC’s hypocrisy for doing so.

As it stands, Japanese crypto issuers are required to pay a set 30% corporate tax rate on their holdings, even if they haven’t realized a profit through a sale.

The Japanese government is set to ease tax requirements for local crypto firms, as it pushes to stimulate growth in the domestic finance and tech sectors.

At present, Japanese firms that issue crypto are required to pay a set 30% corporate tax rate on their holdings, even if they haven’t realized a profit through a sale. As such, a number of domestically founded crypto/blockchain firms and talent have reportedly chosen to set up shop elsewhere over the past few years.

Japan’s ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) tax committee held a meeting on Dec. 15 and approved a proposal — initially tabled in August — which removes the requirement for crypto companies to pay taxes on paper gains from tokens that they have issued and held.

The softer crypto tax rules are expected to be submitted to parliament in January, and go into effect for Japan’s next financial year starting on April 1.

Speaking to Bloomberg on Dec. 15, LDP lawmaker and member of its Web3 policy office Akihisa Shiozaki noted that “this is a very big step forward,” adding that “It will become easier for various companies to do business that involves issuing tokens.”

The latest move from the government appears to signal that its hunger to promote and develop the domestic crypto and Web3 sector hasn’t waned despite the FTX disaster,

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized in October that NFTs, blockchain and the Metaverse will play important roles in the nation’s digital transformation. The PM cited the digitization of national identity cards as an example.

In October the Japan Virtual and Crypto Assets Exchange Association also announced plans to walk back the stringent screening process for listing new tokens on exchanges, something which Kishida had called on the self-regulatory organization to do back in June.

Related: FTX wants permission to sell FTX Japan and FTX Europe as well as LedgerX

Such forward thinking sentiments have also been shared by key figures in the private sector. On Dec. 8 banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMBC) announced that it is working on an initiative to explore the use cases of soulbound tokens (SBTs).

SBTs refer to a proposal from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin concerning the use of tokens to represent people’s digital identity.

While Congressman Brad Sherman saw SBF as the poster child of the crypto ecosystem, congressman Tom Emmer highlighted the crypto community’s contribution to uncovering the supposed FTX fraud.

The arrest of the former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) by the Bahamian authorities served as a cue for anti-crypto proponents to reignite discussions around the dangers of cryptocurrencies. While some political leaders blame the crypto ecosystem for SBF’s frauds, others find no point in blaming an entire industry for one man’s action.

During an FTX hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Brad Sherman did not see a difference between SBF and an industry that once boasted a $2 trillion market cap, as he stated:

“My fear is that we’ll view Sam Bankman-Fried as just one big snake in a crypto Garden of Eden. The fact is crypto is a garden of snakes.”

He supported this statement by explaining how cryptocurrencies, just like nonfungible tokens (NFTs), are being purchased in hopes of selling them for a higher price.

Rep. Brad Sherman during the FTX hearing in front of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services. Source: YouTube

He also highlighted how entrepreneurs such as “Sam Bankman-Fried would tell you there’s a hell of a market for bankruptcy court evasion” and pointed out how crypto aids tax evasion efforts of bad actors.

On the other hand, Congressman Tom Emmer distanced the FTX fallout from the institution of cryptocurrencies while speaking at the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services. Instead, Emmer disclosed how the immutable nature of blockchain technology helped the crypto community uncover the FXT Token (FTT) discrepancies, which ultimately led to SBF’s arrest.

Information stored over the public blockchain will further assist law enforcement in digging into the nuances of the possible crimes. He added:

“I encourage my colleagues to understand Sam Bankman-Fried’s con for what it is — a failure of centralization, a failure of business ethics and a crime. It is not a failure of technology.”

While naysayers try to link SBF’s actions with the idea of crypto and blockchain, the case for decentralization grows stronger. Public blockchain-based crypto ecosystems not only allow for traceability but can also help authorities with anti-money laundering initiatives.

Related: US senator: There’s ‘no reason why’ crypto should exist

Despite the decade-long federal resistance toward crypto, the support for crypto US Senators has grown evidently stronger. Pro-crypto Senator Cynthia Lummis believes in Bitcoin’s (BTC) position as a viable inclusion to 401(k) retirement plans, revealing her disregard for the prolonged, but temporary, bear market:

“I’m very comfortable with making sure that people can include Bitcoin in their retirement funds because it’s just different than other cryptocurrencies.”

Lummis places her bet on Bitcoin’s scarcity, which according to “a personal belief,” will help increase the asset’s value over time.

blackrockBlackrock, one of the largest asset management companies in the world, has warned that 2023 will be a year of recession different from other recessions in the past. As part of its recently issued 2023 Global Outlook report, Blackrock states that a new economic playbook is required in a world defined by a supply-based economy […]

The State Department should submit a report on the use of cryptocurrencies as a viable reward payout with evidence that suggests it’s more encouraging for whistleblowers.

The United States lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 that includes information on crypto rewards and payouts.

The proposed amendment under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the Department of State, an executive department of the U.S. federal government responsible for the country’s foreign policy and relations, to inform about any crypto payouts or rewards within 15 days of making it.

The NDAA is the name for each of a series of United States federal laws specifying the annual budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The official document read:

“Not later than 15 days before making a reward in a form that includes cryptocurrency, the secretary of State shall notify the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate of such form for the rewards.”

Apart from the 15 days information period, the State Department must also submit a report to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate within 180 days of enactment of the act, justifying the use of cryptocurrencies as rewards.

The report must include evidence that suggests crypto rewards would encourage more whistleblowers to come forward compared to other “rewards paid out in the United States dollars or other forms of money or nonmonetary items.”

Related: US ethics advisory on federal employee’s crypto has basis in legislation

The said report should also examine whether the use of cryptocurrency could provide bad actors with additional “hard-to-trace funds that could be used for 16 criminal or illicit purposes.”

The proposed amendment could offer more transparency into the State Department’s expenditure on cryptocurrency rewards. Once passed the policy could also offer insight into the federal government’s views on cryptocurrency use for illicit activities, a primary argument used by policymakers against cryptocurrencies.

The Biden government published the ‘first-ever’ comprehensive framework for crypto in September this year following Biden’s executive order in March. The framework offered six principal directions for crypto regulation in the U.S. The framework is sum total of 9 different reports on crypto over the years combined together

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