A funny story: SEC can’t confirm Bill Hinman in the video alleges to be Bill Hinman
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is unable to confirm or deny whether a video ostensibly featuring Bill Hinman actually features Bill Hinman. “After reasonable inquiry, the information known and currently available is not sufficient to enable the Commission to admit or deny this request,” the SEC stated in court documents.
Bill Hinman, also known as William Hinman, is a former SEC Division of Corporation Finance director who has become a key player in the long-running legal dispute between the SEC and Ripple Labs over alleged unregistered securities offerings via XRP tokens.
Bill Hinman stated at the 2018 Fintech Week Conference, while still serving at the SEC, that the sale of Ethereum (ETH) did not constitute “securities transactions.” However, it appears that the SEC is delaying admitting the obvious in order to slow down the case.
The SEC has “failed to respond in accordance with the applicable rules as to 53 RFAs on important subjects where there is no real dispute,” according to a May 18 motion to compel Requests for Admission (RFAs) filed by Ripple Labs’ legal team, Debevoise & Plimpton.
Ripple is asking the court to order either the admission of the RFAs or the SEC to provide amended responses. The SEC has not been able to confirm a series of instances that appear to be undeniable in relation to RFAs focused on Hilman.
Despite the fact that Hinman was completely visible and audible during a recorded interview at a public event, the SEC has refused to confirm or deny whether the recording is authentic or whether the statements made by Hinman were actually made by him. This could be an example of the above statement.
Notably, the YouTube video cited by Ripple’s legal team appears to have been uploaded by the interviewer, Georgetown law professor Chris Brummer. The account, created in 2016, bears his name, has a profile picture, and links to all of his professionally affiliated websites.
Despite this, the SEC claims to be all at sea as to the identity of the mystery man.
“Subject to all of the foregoing objections, and after reasonable inquiry, the information known and currently available is not sufficient to enable the Commission to admit or deny this request.”
The SEC has also denied a request that it cannot challenge the video’s authenticity and appears to be unwilling to provide any information on the subject.
After having a request to shield documents relating to Bill Hinman denied, it filed a letter motion late last month claiming attorney-client privilege over internal details about Hinman’s 2018 speech.
Many observers believe Hinman’s comments could be one of the deciding factors in the SEC’s argument that the XRP token should be classified as a security. It has also recently been suggested that Hinman may have had a conflict of interest while working for the SEC, which could influence the outcome of the case.
On May 11, the corruption watchdog Empower Oversight claimed to have obtained documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request that revealed Hinman had an undisclosed “direct financial interest” with the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which is a member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA).
Commentators like John Deaton, founder of the legal news site Crypto Law, told his 198,000 Twitter followers that “if Hinman didn’t submit the speech to conflicts screening, it’s game set and match.”
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