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Judge denies SEC motion to seal Hinman speech documents in Ripple case

Legal • May 16, 2023, 9:04PM EDT

Quick Take

  • A judge denied the Securities and Exchange Commission’s motion to seal documents related to a controversial speech by former Division of Corporation Finance Director Bill Hinman.
  • The documents have been a key issue in the SEC case against Ripple, which the commission has accused of selling unregistered securities.

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The embattled crypto firm Ripple notched a victory in court on Tuesday when a judge denied the Securities and Exchange Commission’s motion to seal documents tied to a controversial speech on cryptocurrency.

The SEC and Ripple have been embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit for years. The commission accused Ripple of illegally selling its XRP token without registering it as a security in 2020. 

A portion of the legal battle has focused on documents linked to a 2018 speech on cryptocurrency by former Division of Corporation Finance Director Bill Hinman, which included remarks on why he did not consider bitcoin and ether to be securities. The SEC has tried to shield the documents and communications related to the Hinman speech, arguing at times that Hinman’s speech reflected his personal views rather than commission policy. The SEC has also said that the documents were part of Hinman’s commission duties and are protected under a statute that grants privacy for internal deliberations.

Judge Analisa Torres disagreed in a court order on Tuesday.

“They are judicial documents subject to a strong presumption of public access,” Torres wrote in the court filing. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

A judge denied the SEC’s motion to seal documents related to a 2018 speech on cryptocurrency.

Ripple cheers judge’s decision, XRP sees a bump

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse applauded the judge’s decision as a win for transparency.

“Another win for transparency! Unredacted Hinman emails to be publicly available soon – stay tuned as the lawyers work through the mechanics to make that happen,” Garlinghouse said on Twitter.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse responded to a court order on Twitter.

A judge previously denied another SEC attempt to shield the Hinman speech documents last year. The SEC and Ripple did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The price of the XRP token saw a slight increase after the judge’s order was made public. XRP was up 4.64% over the last 24 hours, and the price was $0.447814 as of Tuesday evening, according to CoinGecko.