In a significant win for Ripple, a federal judge has ruled against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its motion to seal documents connected to a controversial speech on cryptocurrency.
The decision was made by District Judge Analisa Torres of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on 16 May, and refers to documents connected to a 2018 speech on cryptocurrency by former SEC Director of Corporation Finance Bill Hinman, in which he said that Ether (ETH) and Bitcoin (BTC) were not securities. These documents are considered central to Ripple’s battle against the SEC, which in 2020 accused the crypto company of unlawfully selling its XRP token without registering it as a security.
The regulator had sought to shield documents and communications — such as internal emails, text messages, and expert reports — that followed Hinman’s speech, arguing that they were protected under a law that granted privacy to internal deliberations. Judge Torres disagreed with the SEC, noting that the materials were “judicial documents” that should be subject to a strong presumption of public access. This ruling supports a previous decision by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in January 2022, who had ordered the SEC to turn over the documents to Ripple as part of the discovery process. Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse took to Twitter to express his satisfaction with the court’s decision:
The unsealing of the Hinman speech documents is considered a significant development in Ripple’s ongoing legal battle with the SEC, as the company viewed the speech as a crucial piece of evidence to challenge the allegations made against the company.
While Judge Torres did allow certain redaction requested by the SEC — including personal information and financial details of individuals — she also deemed several proposed redactions by Ripple as “overbroad”. The company wanted to redact references that linked its revenues with XRP sales, as well as compensations that were offered to trading platforms for listing the asset. The judge argued that these specific details were pertinent to the case and should not be shielded from public scrutiny.