SEC Seeks $2 Billion Fine on Ripple: Court Filings

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wants a federal judge in New York to penalize Ripple Labs with a fine of nearly $2 billion. This request was revealed in court documents made available on Tuesday.

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The SEC accuses Ripple Labs of persisting in selling its XRP token to institutional investors despite a previous ruling by a federal judge that found the company in violation of securities laws.


SEC Seeks $2 Billion Fine Against Ripple for Ongoing XRP Sales

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is pushing for a substantial fine of nearly $2 billion against Ripple Labs to discourage securities law violations and recover illicit profits, according to court filings.

The SEC argues that Ripple’s persistent sale of its XRP token to institutional investors, despite a prior court ruling deeming it a violation of securities laws, warrants a significant deterrent. The regulator points to Ripple’s extensive unregistered XRP sales over the past three years as evidence of the need for strong enforcement measures.

Federal Judge Analisa Torres previously ruled in July that Ripple had indeed violated securities laws through its XRP sales to institutional investors. However, despite this ruling, Ripple has continued to engage in such sales, with profits from these transactions surpassing its pre-lawsuit earnings, although exact figures are redacted in the court filings.

Ripple’s significant holdings of XRP, totaling 45.77 billion units as of December 31, 2023, and around 5.5 billion units as of March 2024, further underscore its incentive to continue these sales.

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Moreover, the SEC criticizes Ripple’s response to the legal proceedings, accusing the company of downplaying its actions and misrepresenting the court’s judgment as a “total victory” for itself. The regulator contends that Ripple’s efforts to deflect blame and lack of transparency about its business practices are concerning and necessitate appropriate penalties.

SEC Lawsuit Against Ripple: Legal Battle and Regulatory Landscape

In December 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated legal action against Ripple Labs, alleging that the company conducted an unregistered securities offering. This lawsuit accused Ripple of violating US securities laws, which mandate the registration of securities offerings with the SEC.

Under the leadership of Chair Gary Gensler, who holds the view that the majority of crypto tokens qualify as securities, the SEC has pursued numerous lawsuits against crypto firms, including major exchanges like Coinbase, Kraken, and Binance. Critics argue that Gensler’s approach exceeds the SEC’s jurisdiction, advocating for a tailored regulatory framework for crypto assets distinct from traditional securities laws.

In a significant development in July 2023, Federal Judge Analisa Torres ruled that Ripple unlawfully raised over $728 million through unregistered securities sales, particularly targeting institutional buyers and hedge funds with its XRP token. However, Torres differentiated between the “programmatic” sale of XRP, conducted on exchanges for retail investors, and institutional sales, determining that the former did not constitute a violation of securities laws.

This split decision was perceived as a victory by the crypto industry, leading exchanges like Coinbase to relist XRP. Ripple executives celebrated the outcome, as evidenced by screenshots of their tweets included in the SEC’s complaint. Despite the SEC’s attempt to appeal Torres’s ruling, the request was denied, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing legal battle between Ripple and the SEC.

Ripple’s Response to SEC’s Allegations

Despite the ongoing legal battle with the SEC, Ripple’s Chief Legal Officer, Stuart Alderoty, announced plans to file a response with the court in April, as revealed in an X post on Monday.

Alderoty criticized the SEC’s approach, accusing the regulatory body of aiming to punish and intimidate Ripple and the broader crypto industry instead of faithfully applying the law. He reiterated Ripple’s commitment to challenging the SEC’s allegations and defending its position in court.


Important: Please note that this article is only meant to provide information and should not be taken as legal, tax, investment, financial, or any other type of advice.

 

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