Despite rumors of a settlement recently, neither party in the SEC v. Ripple Labs lawsuit is willing to back down. With the saga unfolding in no one’s favor, both sides have continued to oppose and rebut the other’s moves.
The SEC is the latest to launch its salvo. The SEC has now submitted a letter opposing Ripple’s latest request to add three documents to the in-camera review that is to be conducted by Judge Sarah Netburn soon.
The documents, that had been withheld by the SEC on privilege grounds, were sought after by Ripple in a letter submitted last week. The blockchain firm believes them to be “highly relevant” to the case. They were among the 19 entities that had been provided to the court by the SEC in its privilege log.
In the filing, the agency claimed that these documents are not in line with the court’s previous orders. It argued,
“These documents are not responsive to the court’s prior orders, and the SEC placed the documents on a privilege log only in an (apparently futile) attempt to avoid disputes.”
It also asserted that deliberations present in the requested documents are pretty much similar to the documents that have already been submitted by the SEC to be reviewed on camera. The agency added,
“[They] reflect deliberations by SEC staff, and have therefore been redacted or withheld pursuant to the deliberative privilege process.”
According to the letter submitted by Ripple last week, the documents in question contain discussions that the regulatory body has had with third parties regarding digital assets.
The first two documents in the “belatedly produced” privilege log contain deliberations with law firms over these assets.
The third document is reportedly an e-mail chain “concerning discussions with a third party whom defendants understand received guidance from the SEC to analyze its digital asset under the framework set forth in Director William Hinman’s June 14, 2018 speech.”
The speech itself has been a point of contention for long. According to many, the views expressed by Hinman at the time could lead to the agency’s entire case crumbling.
It is not clear who the ‘third party’ mentioned in the log’s description is, but the documents could prove to bring out relevant points that have been long fought for during the case.
First of all, it could be the deciding factor on whether views expressed during this speech were Hinman’s own or the SEC’s official policy. The guidance provided to the third party would also be relevant to show the SEC’s inconsistency in terms of regulatory clarity, further supporting Ripple’s fair defense notice.
In any case, the SEC has opposed Ripple’s latest request, mainly citing privacy laws protecting SEC employees. It has also claimed that there is “no need for the Court to review the three additional documents.” It, however, added that,
“If the court determines it is appropriate to pierce the privilege for some or all of those documents, then the court can order in camera review of these three additional documents at that time.”
In the event that this does turn out to be the case, the watchdog concluded,
“The SEC respectfully requests that it be afforded the opportunity to make a submission explaining its privilege assertions for each of these documents, just as the Court did for the documents the SEC has already submitted in camera.”