The long battle between the American regulatory Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the XRP issuer Ripple has taken a personal turn – literally – with the SEC seeking personal financial information from banks on the company’s two most powerful executives, its co-founder Christian Larsen and CEO Bradley Garlinghouse
Per Bloomberg, Ripple has hit back, asking a federal judge “to block subpoenas sent to six banks” seeking “eight years’ worth” of information, claiming the SEC request amounts to “wholly inappropriate overreach” as the case in question does not involve fraud charges.
The media outlet says that Ripple’s lawyers wrote to the court, in the Southern District of New York, to state,
“The SEC has not offered and cannot provide a coherent explanation for why it is entitled to this information.”
Ripple has dismissed any wrongdoing, with Larsen and Garlinghouse claiming the regulator is demanding to know petty details such as “how much money they spend at the grocery store every week.”
The SEC says Larsen and Garlinghouse personally profited from the sales of the XRP token, which it claims is an “unregistered security,” to the tune of around USD 600m.
And the plot appears to have thickened. Per data picked up by the Twitter-based crypto movement tracker Whale Alert, some XRP 136m (USD 62m) has been on the move in the past day or so, much of it reportedly linked to Ripple execs.
The tracker claims that around XRP 19m has been moved, for instance, from digital money platform Uphold, which decided not to delist XRP, to a Ripple-owned wallet named FundingWallet1 that was activated by Larsen, who then proceeded to send some USD 35m worth of XRP to a number of his other wallets.
Last month, the company’s co-founder and ex-Chief Technical Officer Jed McCaleb also moved millions of USD worth of tokens out of a Tacostand wallet.
At the time of writing (09:51 UTC), XRP trades at USD 0.454 and is up by 2% in a day, trimming its weekly losses to less than 6%.
Court Orders SEC to Answer Ripple’s Interrogatories
Ripple, however, has failed to bury the SEC in paperwork, with the judge granting the agency’s motion for a protection order against “unduly burdensome” requests
Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn has ordered the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to answer some of Ripple’s hotly-contested interrogatories, which are meant to determine whether or not the plaintiff’s contentions can be supported by facts.
The agency will have to specify why the company’s XRP sales are investment contracts:
The SEC’s legal theory is not an excuse to avoid responding to Defendants’ factual inquiry. Nor is it a basis to answer a different question than posed.
In addition, the SEC will have to state whether it believes that Ripple’s efforts were key to boosting the price of XRP.
However, Ripple’s interrogatory about whether or not the XRP Ledger was fully functional prior to the start of the securities offering has been denied for being too vague:
The Court agrees that this interrogatory seeks relevant information. But Defendants’ interrogatory is too vague for the reasons identified by the SEC.
Netburn has also granted the SEC’s motion for a protective order, which allows the regulator not to respond to all of Ripple’s “unreasonably burdensome” interrogatories.
The agency claimed that covering all the 29,947 requests would take 104 days without “breaks or sleep.”
Earlier this week, the court also granted the SEC’s motion to extend the expert discovery deadline to Jan. 14, 2022, despite Ripple’s protestations.
Ripple CEO Says the SEC Helped Ethereum to Surpass XRP as No.2 Crypto
- Ripple CEO aired his opinion on the crypto market and regulations.
- Brad Garlinghouse said the US SEC granted Ethereum regulatory green light.
At the DC Fintech Week virtual conference on October 21, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghounse aired his thoughts on the state of the crypto market and regulations. Besides, he holds a grudge over the financial regulator’s approach to Ethereum.
In addition, Garlinghouse declared that the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) granted Ethereum regulatory green light that enabled it to surpass his firm’s XRP token.
Likewise, the Ripple boss feels that his firm has been played out. But, at the same time, Ethereum’s subsequent success is at least in part down to more favorable treatment by the US SEC. Also, Garlinghouse stated that it is affecting its market. He said,
“Within the last few years, XRP was the second most valuable digital asset. As it became clear the SEC had given a hall pass to ETH, ETH obviously has exploded, and that clarity has helped.”
To clarify, XRP was the second-largest crypto asset by market cap in late December 2017. But, currently, it has dropped to seventh place while Ethereum has kept the second spot ever since.
Furthermore, the reason why XRP dropped is the US SEC pursuing Ripple over claims that XRP is unregistered security. In fact, in January, Ripple filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the US SEC demanding to know why it didn’t consider ETH security.
As a result, later in July, a district judge allowed the firm to depose a former official who declared in 2018 that ETH was not a security.
XRP Lawsuit: Court Grants Two Motions for both parties each. Here’s how it’s a win-win for Ripple?
The latest update in the XRP lawsuit explains the need for the formerly granted extension. Judge Netburn partially granted two motions, one for both parties. First, the Defendants’ Motion to Compel the SEC to produce interrogatories responses, regarding SEC’s Howey Test blanket application theory. Second, the Plaintiff’s Motion seeking a protective order under FRCP 26(c)(1), relieving the plaintiff of any obligation to respond to the 29,947 requests for admission (RFAs). Judge Netburn explains that the discovery sought in both motions overlap in certain respects, and therefore these applications are resolved together.
Court grants majority motions from the Interrogatories Dispute
Judge Netburn specified that the parties’ conflict over the application of Howey and its progeny do not render Ripple’s interrogatory improper and therefore has ordered the SEC to answer Ripple’s interrogatory No.2, identifying the specific terms of the “investment contract” from XRP sales, along with Interrogatories 11, i.e., Ripple’s move to compel the SEC to state whether it contends that “efforts by Ripple were necessary to effect any increase in the price of XRP.”
Followed by Interrogatories 1 & 11, the Court also granted Ripple Interrogatory No. 6, i.e., the defendants move to compel the SEC to state whether it contends that “Bitcoin and/or Ether are securities within the meaning of Section 2 of the 1933 Securities Exchange Act.”. Furthermore, Judge Netburn granted most of the Defendants’ motions to compel answers on other interrogatories, except Defendants’ motion regarding Larsen Interrogatory No. 5 on when XRPL was fully functional. The judge denied it without prejudice for being “too vague”.
SEC “irrelevance” argument discarded, while “burdensome” stance gets protection from Court
In the RFAs dispute, where the SEC sought a protective order, Judge Netburn has ordered the SEC to answer most of the RFAs while granting protection from one. Specifically, the Court has discarded SEC’s “irrelevance” argument in the case. The court Orders the SEC to produce responses for the Fourth Set requests, seeking to authenticate documents for admissibility under Rule 36(a)(1)(B) that regards the use of RFAs to establish the authenticity or genuineness of a document.
Furthermore, Judge Netburn denies SEC’s “irrelevant” contention to the Fourth Set of Requests regarding Defendants’ “fair notice” argument. The judge stated that disputes over interpretations of law are not a proper objection to a request for admission. Additionally, the court suggested the responding party either admit or deny the statement presented. The court orders the SEC to make a “reasonable inquiry” to secure such information “as are readily obtainable”, further denying the motion for a protective order to the Fourth Set of requests.
However, the court granted a protective order to the SEC for the Sixth Set of Requests regarding the disputed issue of whether Defendants’ sales of XRP constitute “investment contracts” under Howey, where the Defendants required the SEC to consider over 1,500 contracts and answer 13 preliminary questions. The Judge writes “it is hard to view this stunt as anything more than Theatre” to Defendants’ extensive 28,849 RFAs and granting protection to the plaintiff on burden grounds.