Since December, Ripple Labs has been fighting a $1.3 billion case brought against it by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which accuses the digital payments company of offering an unregistered security in the form of its native XRP token.
The company today won a discovery ruling that will require the SEC to hand over internal documents about Bitcoin and Ethereum. As a result, the general public may soon get a peek behind the curtain of the SEC, which has been historically tight-lipped about crypto’s regulatory status.
On March 15, Ripple Labs along with its co-defendants, CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Executive Chairman Chris Larsen, filed a motion to compel the SEC to produce documents regarding the SEC’s communications about Bitcoin and Ethereum or its internal communications about XRP.
“For almost a decade, the SEC watched as XRP grew and developed, all the while issuing no formal guidance that its sales may be illegal,” it wrote in the March 15 filing to US District Court Judge Sarah Netburn. “The SEC did, however, announce that sales of two similar digital assets — bitcoin and ether — were not securities offerings.”
The SEC, through public comments from both former Chairman Jay Clayton and former Director of Enforcement William Hinman, has made it known that it doesn't consider Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, to be securities. However, the Commission has not issued any formal guidance that explains, in detail, how it arrived at this conclusion. A security is a type of investment contract that implies the expectation of future profits.
Ripple is likely looking for SEC mentions of XRP as a “virtual currency” like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which would bolster its case that it should be treated similarly. It might also get some insight into the agency’s criteria for determining when digital assets are and aren’t securities, which it could then presumably use to make the case that XRP meets those requirements.
“I’m going to grant, in large part, the defendants’ motion,” Judge Netburn said during the hearing, as reported by Law360. She included documents such as meeting minutes and internal memos as part of the order, but not internal staff emails.
The SEC argued against the discovery motion, claiming that “the actions of the promoter are what need to be the focus here.”
XRP is up 22% in the last 24 hours, reaching $1.06—its highest price in over three years.
Ripple was not immediately available for comment.