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Empower Oversight received the first documents from the SEC as a result of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation.
The FOIA request was filed on August 12, 2021, but the SEC did not respond, causing the nonprofit to file a lawsuit and later an administrative appeal against the SEC’s original claims of non-response records and file a new FOIA request with the SEC for records related to how staff The FOIA SEC searched for relevant records.
The non-profit wants to analyze potential conflicts of interest in its cryptocurrency-related enforcement decisions, specifically in the SEC lawsuit against Ripple, which was filed the day before the departure of SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. Three months later, he was announced as an advisor to cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund One River.
Other former SEC officials are also under suspicion, including former SEC director of corporate finance William Hinman, whose fate may hang in the balance as a judge in an XRP lawsuit reconsiders whether his 2018 speech on air was his personal opinion or public opinion. opinion. . Hinman left the SEC and returned to the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is part of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, a coalition of companies formed to promote Ethereum as an enterprise solution. After Hinman’s speech, Ether displaced Ripple as the No. 2 cryptocurrency by market capitalization, while Ripple came under increasing pressure from the SEC for an alleged offering of unregistered securities.
EMPOWER OVERSIGHT REQUIRES MORE
Empower Oversight announced that the documents obtained from the SEC consist of emails between two now former senior SEC officials and any email addresses at the law firm that hired them after they left the SEC, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
They include 1,053 pages of emails featuring William Hinman, former director of the SEC’s corporate finance division, and 46 pages of emails featuring Mark Berger, a former acting director of the SEC’s enforcement division.
However, due to formatting issues, many of these pages are almost completely blank and contain repetitive information. On Feb. 18, at the request of the SEC, Empower Oversight provided a detailed list of people associated with the organizations identified in the FOIA request so that the SEC can identify additional response records rather than restrict searches to specific email address domains.
“This initial SEC document is a step in the right direction, but it must meet its obligation to conduct additional searches in order to meet its legal obligation to be transparent. Empower Oversight will not relinquish its commitment to accountability through the public’s right to know,” said Empower Oversight Founder and President Jason Foster.
Empower Oversight is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the independent oversight of government and corporate wrongdoing. The organization also collects relevant information and reports corruption to the relevant authorities, while holding public officials accountable for the performance of their functions.
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