SEC Can’t Seal Docs Tied to Hinman’s Ether Speech, Judge in Ripple Suit Rules
In the ongoing legal battle between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Ripple, a federal judge has ruled that the SEC cannot seal documents related to former official William Hinman’s 2018 speech on cryptocurrencies and securities. The speech, in which Hinman stated his view that ether (ETH) was not a security, is seen as crucial evidence in Ripple’s defense against the SEC’s allegations. District Judge Analisa Torres of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld a previous ruling by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn, stating that the documents should be turned over to Ripple as part of the discovery process.
While the SEC will be allowed to redact names and personal information mentioned in the documents, Judge Torres emphasized that the “Hinman Speech Documents” should not be sealed as they are relevant to the judicial process. The judge noted that these documents do not fall under the protection of deliberative process privilege, as they do not relate to an agency position, decision, or policy. The court found that sealing the documents would not serve the purpose of preserving openness and candor within the agency, and the public’s strong presumption of access outweighs any interest in sealing them.
On the other hand, Ripple sought to redact certain documents, including contractual agreements, financial information, and other sensitive details. Judge Torres approved many of Ripple’s proposed redactions, acknowledging that they were targeted and specific. However, she deemed some of the proposed redactions, particularly those related to XRP, as “overbroad.” Examples included attempts to redact references linking Ripple’s revenues with XRP sales and details about compensation offered to trading platforms to list XRP. The judge also denied the request to redact information about the amount of Ripple’s XRP sales targeted at investors through programmatic and institutional sales.
The ruling brings transparency to the case by allowing the public access to the Hinman speech documents, which are expected to shed light on the SEC’s stance on cryptocurrencies and their classification as securities. Meanwhile, Ripple will still have certain redactions in place for sensitive business information, but the court has deemed some proposed redactions as too broad, ensuring a level of openness in the proceedings.