The United States Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] has finally announced filing an action against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executives on the 22nd of December. Claiming the two execs, namely Christian Larsen, Ripple’s co-founder, executive chairman of its board; and Brad Garlinghouse, the company’s current CEO, as significant security holders, SEC alleged that they secured more than $1.3 billion through an unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering.
This news comes just a day after Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse warned the community about an imminent lawsuit over the blockchain firm’s sale of XRP which happens to be associated with the platform.
According to the official document, Ripple also allegedly distributed billions of XRP in cryptocurrency exchange for non-cash consideration, like labor and market-making services. Apart from structuring and promoting the XRP sales used to finance the firm’s business, both Larsen and Garlinghouse also affected personal unregistered sales of XRP totaling nearly $600 million. The complaint further alleged that the two defendants in question apparently failed to register their offers and sales of the digital asset or satisfy an exemption from registration, which was found to be a violation of the registration provisions of the federal securities laws.
Stephanie Avakian, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division stated,
“We allege that Ripple, Larsen, and Garlinghouse failed to register their ongoing offer and sale of billions of XRP to retail investors, which deprived potential purchasers of adequate disclosures about XRP and Ripple’s business and other important long-standing protections that are fundamental to our robust public market system.”
A divided Industry
Despite Garlinghouse’s claim that Ripple is not only on the right side of the law but also on the right side of history, there are many in the community who would contradict.
Clearly, the cryptocurrency industry was probably never as divided as it is currently. As the news of the lawsuit broke on Tuesday, several prominent personalities of the crypto industry went on to share their opinion on Twitter. While there were some who sympathized with Ripple and the executives and called out the agency for its stance on the matter, there were many advocates of the space who sided with SEC’s latest move.
Co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital, Anthony Pompliano, for one, made his lenience quite clear with the following tweet:
“Good morning to everyone except the people who thought they could sell unregistered securities and get away with it”
Pompliano argued that he listened to their opinion but lost when “they openly became enemies of Bitcoin and the decentralization movement”. This could be attributed to an official release in which Ripple had earlier claimed that Bitcoin and Ethereum were “Chinese-controlled”. This did not sit well with, Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin as well, who lashed out at the firm in the following tweet:
Looks like the Ripple/XRP team is sinking to new levels of strangeness. They're claiming that their shitcoin should not be called a security for *public policy reasons*, namely because Bitcoin and Ethereum are "Chinese-controlled". 😂😂https://t.co/ts02JqrTrB pic.twitter.com/mKwEzGIetk
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 22, 2020
Interestingly, Messari’s Ryan Selkis also took a jibe at Ripple’s popular mantra “we’re all in this together” and said that the “bad limb” needs to be amputated.