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SEC wants Hinman speech materials sealed in court battle with Ripple

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a motion seeking to have materials related to the Hinman speech sealed, claiming that public dissemination of these documents would hamper the ability of its officials to express themselves and debate with candor and openness.

In a filing with the Southern District of New York, the agency also requested the sealing of names and other personally identifying information for its witnesses and XRP investors who submitted declarations supporting Ripple. It stated that one of its experts was subjected to extensive threats and harassment after his name was leaked to the public.

The Gary Gensler-led agency also wants to have the personal and financial information of defendants, such as wallet addresses and bank account numbers, withheld from the public.

The crux of the motion lies with the infamous 2018 speech by Bill Hinman at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in June 2018, in which he stated that Ether wasn’t a security. Since then, some market players have used the speech to gauge whether their tokens fall under the security category as defined by the SEC.

However, the impact of the speech became most apparent when the SEC, under the then-chair Jay Clayton, filed a lawsuit against Ripple, accusing the California company of violating securities laws by selling XRP. Ripple, in its defense, posed the question: if Ether isn’t a security, then why is XRP?

The SEC has been fending off requests to turn over the Hinman documents to Ripple, but in October, Judge Analisa Torres ruled against the agency, giving the company access to the documents. However, they remain confidential, and the SEC wants to keep it that way.

According to the filing, if the documents were to become public, “the SEC would be foreclosed from making any such argument in the future…which would be highly prejudicial to the SEC.”

“Regardless of whether these documents reflect agency deliberations that should be protected by the deliberative process privilege, they unquestionably reflect confidential deliberations. SEC officials repeatedly express their views and positions on issues of programmatic significance to the SEC. The ability of agency officials to debate and collaborate with openness and candor would be hampered by the public dissemination of these documents,” the motion stated.

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Ethereum, FTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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