Former SEC director Hinman's plan to call Vitalik Buterin revealed in Ripple lawsuit

Quick Take

  • Former SEC director William Hinman intended to have a conversation with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in 2018.
  • Hinman wanted to understand how the Ethereum Foundation operates to “confirm” his stance that ETH was not a security.

Newly released documents in an ongoing lawsuit brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against Ripple Labs show that William Hinman, a former director of regulator's Division of Corporation Finance, planned to have a conversation with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in 2018.

According to a 2018 email sent by Hinman, the discussion aimed to “confirm our understanding of how the Ethereum Foundation operates.”

Hinman, in a notable 2018 speech, opined the native asset of the Ethereum network did not require regulation as a security, and Ripple Labs has since frequently referenced this standpoint in their defense against the SEC’s allegations. The recently surfaced document provides a glimpse into internal discussions at the SEC preceding the Hinman speech in which he suggested that bitcoin and ether were not securities. 

The SEC, in December 2020, filed a lawsuit accusing Ripple Labs of raising over $1.3 billion via an unregistered digital asset securities offering with its own XRP cryptocurrency.

More recently, the SEC initiated lawsuits against crypto exchanges Coinbase and Binance. The legal complaint against Coinbase cited at least 13 crypto assets it argued should be considered as securities including Solana and Cardano.

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