The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has mysteriously removed former commissioner William Hinman’s biography from its website.
This occurs only 8 days before the court requires the SEC to provide unredacted copies of all of Hinman’s emails – widely viewed as paramount to the agency’s lawsuit with crypto industry giant Ripple.
Are Hinman’s Emails the Smoking Gun?
On the SEC’s site, Hinman’s biography now only includes his name, photo, and his previous role as the “Director of the Division of Corporation Finance” from May 2017 to Dec. 2020. His former bio stated that in his role, Hinman provided “interpretive assistance to companies with respect to SEC rules, and makes recommendations to the Commission regarding new and existing rules.”
— Mr. Huber??? (@Leerzeit) June 5, 2023
The month of Hinman’s departure was the same month that the SEC filed its suit against Ripple Labs for its unregistered sale of the cryptocurrency XRP, which collapsed in value that day by 45% and has fallen far away from its former position as a top 3 crypto by market cap.
Hinman is known for having delivered a speech in 2018 saying that he did not view current transactions and sales of Ether as securities transactions. Given that XRP was distributed in a similar way to ETH, Ripple and other SEC critics have long sought internal transcripts and discussions on the speech to determine if ETH was getting preferential treatment over XRP.
The End is Near
The Ripple V. SEC case has loomed large over the U.S. crypto industry, which seeks clarity and legal precedent on which cryptocurrencies will be delegated as securities in the United States. Both the SEC and Ripple filed for summary judgment in December 2022, bringing hope that its conclusion might be on the horizon.
Ripple’s victory in securing Hinman’s speech documents in October 2022 was also considered a major victory, but they remained confidential at the time.
Prominent voices in crypto such as Charles Hoskinson believe the SEC lawsuit will likely conclude this month. Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said early last month that he was expecting a summary judgment on the case to be submitted within “3 to 6 weeks.”
Ripple has already spent $200 million in court to defend its case that XRP is not a security, as it does not satisfy all requirements of the SEC’s oft-cited Howey Test.