Empower Oversight, a Washington-based watchdog, has supported a motion filed by Roslyn Layton Layton, a senior vice president of telecom research firm Strand Consult asking the Judge in the SEC v Ripple case to unseal documents related to the 2018 controversial speech on cryptocurrencies by former SEC executive William Hinman.
The motion, dated Feb 21, asked Judge Analisa Torres to deny a Dec 22 motion by the U.S. SEC to seal some of the Hinman Speech Documents that Ripple offered in support of its summary judgment motion, arguing that the case for the public release of those documents “is particularly strong.”
“Both the First Amendment and federal common law endow the press and the public with a “potent and fundamental presumptive right” to access “judicial documents, —a right fundamentally rooted in the need for courts to have a measure of accountability and for the public to have confidence in the administration of justice,” the motion read.
Last September, Judge Torres ordered the SEC to turn over Hinman Speech documents to Ripple labs after months of disputes. Ripple then introduced them as evidence in support of its summary judgement motion before the SEC filed a motion to redact content from the speech-related documents under attorney-client privilege.
According to Mrs Layton, the fact that these documents were presented as judicial documents by Ripple attested to their importance in determining the parties’ substantive rights. She further urged the judge to consider the case’s implications arguing that the stakes are extraordinarily high, not only for the Ripple ecosystem but also for the broader crypto sector.
“This case is also poised to determine the future of cryptocurrencies in this country, serving as a legal referendum on the SEC’s entire system of “regulation by enforcement” for the industry,” it wrote.
Commenting on the motion, Jason Foster, Founder and President of Empower Oversight, described SEC’s approach in the Ripple case as “stonewalled” for attempting to suppress organisational transparency.
“The public deserves answers from the SEC as to what exactly the agency knew about Hinman’s speech and when they knew it,” he said.
In Dec 2021, Empower Oversight filed a lawsuit against the SEC, alleging bias by former SEC officials against Ripple. The watchdog claimed that William Hinman received millions of dollars from Simpson Thacher while helping guide the SEC’s regulation of cryptocurrencies. Simpson Thacher was Hinman’s former employer and allegedly promoted Ethereum in its early days.
That said, if the Court rejects the SEC’s motion to redact documents related to the Hinman speech and the trial goes forward, these materials would be made accessible to the public. Should the information in these documents be as damaging as some think, the SEC could suffer a significant loss, resulting in a major victory for the cryptocurrency industry.