US’s Empower Oversight Examines Dispute between SEC and Ripple

Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research of the US (Empower Oversight) has asked the Securities & Exchange Commission of the US (SEC) to provide it with copies of documents available with SEC with regard to Ripple and its crypto project “XRP”. Empower Oversight wants to know whether there is any conflict of interest on the part of the SEC with regard to the ongoing litigation between SEC and Ripple.

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of the US, any person can ask the government functionaries to provide public documents. This very law has been used by Empower Oversight as a tool to seek certain documents from the SEC. It has been informed by Empower Oversight that it has written a request letter to SEC asking it to provide public documents. These documents are pertaining to ongoing litigation between SEC, Ripple, and the executives of Ripple. The watchdog wants to know the communication that took place between Ripple and SEC officials prior to the dispute. The authority has further asked to provide it with the internal communication of SEC’s officials over Ripple.

The authority is a non-profit based organization that works independently from the government. Normally the organization looks at the government functionaries if they are doing their job according to their policies. Apparently, it is a body that keeps a check and balance upon government functionaries. In case there is any ambiguity or nepotism or even corruption with the government functionary, then the organization duly identifies them publicly. The organization’s motto is that no one is above the law and everyone is accountable to the public.

It was reported that the information has been sought from SEC on the basis of FOIA. The organization noted in the letter that it has an apprehension that a few ex-officials of SEC had their interests involved with Ripple. It said that it is possible that there was a conflict of interest and therefore the organization wishes to examine the matter on its own.

Empower Oversight alleged in the letter that between 2017 till 2020 an ex-official of SEC took part in crypto regulation. The official’s name was revealed to be one “Willian Hinman”. The allegation has been raised by Empower Oversight against Hinman who allegedly was paid millions by his ex-employer, Simpson Thacher – a law firm.

It was then alleged by Empower Oversight that Simpson Thacher was and is associated with Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. A further allegation was made that Hinman misused his position at SEC and favored Ethereum at the request of Simpson Thacher. It was alleged that Hinman declared that Ethereum is a “cryptocurrency” and not a “security”. However, when it comes to “Ripple’s XRP”, evidently, XRP has been labeled as “security”. The government watchdog is of the view that there is an apparent contradiction in the stance taken by SEC and its officials.

So far SEC hasn’t provided the document nor did it respond to Empower Oversight’s request.