Tuesday marks an important day in the ongoing legal battle between payment company Ripple and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as the Hinman documents, believed to provide crucial arguments for the case, have now been unsealed.

The Hinman documents pertain to internal communications within the SEC regarding a speech delivered by former SEC Director William Hinman in 2018. In that speech, Hinman said that “based on my understanding of the present state of Ether, the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions.”

“Attached please find a draft of the speech I had mentioned, which suggests that we don’t need to see a need to regulate Ether, as it is currently offered, as a security,” reads one of Hinman’s now publicly available emails.

While the documents don’t directly mention XRP, mostly focusing on the definition of a security, the price of Ripple’s token jumped almost 6% above $0.55 immediately after today’s release.


The token is currently changing hands at $0.53, data from CoinGecko shows.

Hinman didn't consider Bitcoin a security either, saying that “applying the disclosure regime of the federal securities laws to the offer and resale of Bitcoin would seem to add little value.”

Hinman, the SEC and Ripple

Ripple believes that the Hinman docs could potentially play a key role in the SEC's December 2020 lawsuit against the company, which asserts that Ripple sold $1.3 billion worth of XRP as an unregistered security.


“Wish I could go in depth now, but we've waited this long (18+ months), I don't want to overstep… suffice it to say [Stuart Alderoty, Chief Legal Officer at Ripple] and I believe they were well worth the wait,” Ripple CEO Brad Garlighouse tweeted yesterday ahead of the unsealing.

Ripple used Hinman’s speech as an indication that the SEC does not view Bitcoin or Ethereum as a security, arguing that XRP should not be considered a security either. As part of its defense, the company also asserted that the SEC has failed to establish its claim and that XRP is not a security or an investment contract under U.S. federal law.

The company also filed a Freedom of Information Act request which would reveal documents clarifying how Hinman came to this conclusion. Eventually, in October 2022, Ripple obtained the documents.

The SEC had attempted to keep the documents sealed though, arguing that they were not relevant to the case and that the statements made by Hinman were his personal opinions.

However, Judge Analisa Torres last month denied the SEC's motion, ruling that the documents should be made available to the public.

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