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SEC Chairman says market won’t end well outside regulation

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  • SEC Chairman says the crypto market will not end well if it stays outside regulators’ radar. 
  • Gary Gensler added there would not be an existential threat to the market provided the players comply.

The Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler wants more robust oversight of the crypto market, which has grown significantly in capitalization and participants. Yesterday, at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California, the regulator said that many people would be hurt if the market stayed outside the regulatory space. 

The crypto market needs regulation

Gensler told the former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara at the conference that he is “technology-neutral” on financial markets, but not when it involves the protection of investors on new products like cryptocurrencies and SPACs (i.e., special purpose acquisition companies). According to him, the crypto market ought to be within regulators’ radar; else, it is not going to end well.

“To think that a field that’s grown 10-fold in the last 18 months—not just in terms of asset value, but in the underlying lending and much more—that it’s going to stay outside of these public policy frameworks and succeed… We’ll end up with a problem, and a lot of people will be hurt,” the SEC chairman said. 

Gensler has previously noted that he wants more robust oversight for the crypto market, as he described them to be the “Wild West.” Many crypto investors, especially in the US, are concerned that the regulators might impose an “existential threat” or kill the crypto market as it gains more traction. However, the SEC Chairman thinks otherwise, provided the crypto firms “want to comply with anti-money laundering laws, tax compliance, and the like.” 

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Regulatory pressure on crypto continues globally

Several crypto companies and exchanges have been under pressure from different regulators over the past month. In response, many platforms had to adjust their offering and limit access to certain countries. Recently, Binance restricted most of its services to investors and traders in Singapore, including fiat deposits and token swaps. 

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Ripple

SEC v. Ripple – Court orders plaintiff to ‘answer Ripple’s interrogatories’

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Within 24 hours of the court approving the Securities and Exchange Commission’s request to postpone the discovery deadline to January 2022, Judge Sarah Netburn has responded to two pending motions in the SEC v. Ripple Labs lawsuit.

One of the motions was from defendants Ripple Labs and Chris Larsen to compel the SEC to supplement its responses to eleven of its interrogatories and two of Larsen’s. Meanwhile, the other motion from the SEC sought a protective order to relieve it of the obligation to respond to 29,947 separate requests for admission, as per the filing.

Judge Netburn has now granted and denied both motions in part.

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The judge ordered the SEC to answer Ripple’s interrogatories and identify the specific terms of the “investment contract” from XRP sales. The order added,

“Ripple’s interrogatory is relevant (and precise) and will clarify whether the SEC contends that the terms of any contract identified in response to Ripple’s Interrogatory No. 1 created an expectation of profits by the purchaser of XRP.”

“Accordingly, Defendants’ motion regarding Ripple Interrogatory No. 2 is GRANTED, and the SEC must supplement its response to Interrogatory No. 2 to identify any specific contractual terms and not just implicit and explicit promises as previously identified.”

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The SEC must also respond to whether it contends that “efforts by Ripple were necessary to effect any increase in the price of XRP.” The court granted most of the defendants’ motions to compel answers on interrogatories, except one.

This was the motion from Chris Larsen on when XRPL is fully functional. Judge Netburn denied it without prejudice for being “too vague,” with the parties ordered to confer clarity terms.

Meanwhile, the SEC’s motion for protective orders was also partially granted and denied. The judge granted protection on Defendants’ 28,849 RFAs, noting that “it is hard to view this stunt as anything more than theater.” The order added,

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“The motion for a protective order is GRANTED on burden grounds. Having granted the motion to compel a response to Ripple’s Interrogatory No. 2, the protective order is also GRANTED as cumulative and duplicative of another form of admissible evidence.”

As the SEC and Ripple filed their responses, the timeline for the case may extend due to the postponement of the discovery deadline. This deadline was pushed so that the parties could complete the expert depositions and beef up their preparations.

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Ripple Vs SEC

Court Orders SEC to Answer Ripple’s Interrogatories

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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:

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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.

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Ripple Vs SEC

XRP Lawsuit: Court Grants Two Motions for both parties each. Here’s how it’s a win-win for Ripple?

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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”.

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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.

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