SEC can’t shake off Empower Oversight’s questions about improper conduct in XRP lawsuit

Rick Steves

The case that is likely to be made in court in the SEC v. Ripple lawsuit is that SEC officials, namely ex-SEC Commissioner William Hinman, have given a leg up to Ethereum.

Empower Oversight has appealed SEC’s claim of “no responsive records” on its cryptocurrency Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to enhancing independent oversight of government and corporate wrongdoing has not let go of the case on suspicions of improper conduct by the SEC officials when filing the complaint against Ripple Labs.

Conflict of interest?

There may have been conflicts of interest with cryptocurrencies at the SEC, where some cryptocurrencies may have been promoted over others.

To that effect, Empower Oversight seeks communications between SEC officials and their current and former employers amid the turbulent lawsuit against Ripple and its individual defendants.

Empower Oversight has today filed an administrative appeal challenging the SEC’s claim that “no responsive records exist” in several categories of the FOIA request.

In addition, the organization states that the SEC’s claim that it “conducted a thorough search of the SEC’s various system of records” regarding conflicts of interest with cryptocurrencies is unsupported.

The SEC failed to describe the scope of its searches, the non-profit continued, adding that the public cannot be assured that the SEC took reasonable steps to locate and produce responsive documents.

Empower Oversight first filed the FOIA request in August 2021. This led to a denial of a fee waiver, which was quickly appealed and overturned.

The SEC ignored the request and the organization filed a lawsuit to compel the SEC to comply with its FOIA requests. The litigation remains pending and the SEC’s response is due February 11, 2022.

Ripple vs Ethereum?

The case that is likely to be made in court in the SEC v. Ripple lawsuit is that SEC officials, namely ex-SEC Commissioner William Hinman, have given a leg up to Ethereum.

His 2018 speech stating that Ether is not a security has triggered a bullish move that positioned ETH as the second most valuable crypto asset in aggregate market capitalization.

Judge Sarah Netburn has recently given a mixed ruling in regard to the deliberative process privilege issue as she declared some documents were not privileged but kept others as is.

As part of that decision, the SEC was ordered to hand over the email regarding William Hinman’s 2018 speech. The email was sent to 63 people. The judge also accepted the SEC’s claim the speech was only Hinman’s personal opinion and was not intended as policy.

For years, Ripple’s XRP was placed in #2 after Bitcoin and has steadily lost its standing since then, with other digital assets taking its place in the ranking.

XRP is now #8, after Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, Binance Coin, Cardano, USD Coin, and Solana.

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