In the latest news on the court case between crypto firm Ripple and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a judge has denied the SEC’s appeal to prevent the release of documents tied to former director William Hinman’s Ethereum speech, in which he said Ethereum wasn’t a security.
The 2018 speech and related emails, text messages, and reports are pivotal to Ripple’s legal case. The firm argues the documents show its native token XRP was targeted by the SEC as an unregistered security instead of Ethereum, due to Hinman’s favoritism. Indeed, a whistleblower claimed that during Hinman’s tenure at the SEC, he received millions of dollars in retirement benefits from a law firm with ties to the Ethereum Alliance.
The SEC attempted to seal the documents. The commission argued that the documents and Hinman’s speech had no connection to the legal battle with Ripple – Hinman was a director, but not the chair. This argument was denied in January by magistrate judge Sarah Netburn. The SEC’s appeal was denied by district judge Analisa Torres on Wednesday.
The SEC will be allowed to redact the names and personal information of people mentioned in the documents, however Torres wrote that the SEC can’t seal the Hinman speech papers because they “would reasonably have the tendency to influence [the Court’s] ruling on a motion.”
“As Judge Netburn found in her order dated January 13, 2022, the Hinman Speech Documents are not protected by the deliberative process privilege because they do not relate to an agency position, decision, or policy,” Torres wrote. “Therefore, sealing these documents would not be related to preserving ‘openness and candor’ within the agency, nor would such an interest be substantial enough to outweigh the strong presumption of public access.”
Torres has also upheld the request to conceal the names and details of XRP employees and the financial information of the family members of Ripple execs Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larson. However, Torres also denied some of Ripple’s motions to seal, including references linking Ripple’s revenues with XRP sales and the amount of compensation offered to trading platforms.
XRP shot up 8% in the hours following the news, and at the time of writing is sitting above 45 cents. That said, it’s still well below its 2021 high of $1.65.
Ripple holders believe that the price of XRP can surge much higher if Ripple wins the case against the SEC. The SEC’s case against XRP may also be an important legal precedent on how to classify crypto tokens.