Ripple executives Bradley Garlinghouse and Christian Larsen have rejected demands by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to provide personal financial information as part of the ongoing investigation into a possible XRP sales securities violation.
On March 11, lawyers for the Ripple Labs co-founders requested a protective order regarding their personal information and called for the court to quash subpoenas issued to six of the defendants’ banks.
The banking institutions named specifically were SVB Financial Group, First Republic Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Silver Lake Bank, Silvergate Bank and Citibank.
Lawyers for Garlinghouse and Larsen argued that the SEC had overreached the proper breadth of its investigations when it asserted that the defendants had intermingled their personal finances with those of Ripple Labs. Thursday’s filing stated:
“The SEC’s multi-front attempt to troll through the Individual Defendant’s personal financial information in a non-fraud litigation, where the Defendants have already agreed to produce the relevant information regarding the challenged transactions, is a wholly inappropriate overreach.”
The “challenged transactions” in question relate to the unregistered sale of 14.6 billion XRP beginning in 2013 — a sum worth $1.38 billion at the time of the complaint, now worth $6.5 billion.
The legal team for Garlinghouse and Larsen make clear their clients’ willingness to cooperate regarding financial records relating to the XRP sales, including trading records, and documentation of compensation that both have received from Ripple.
“Specifically, the Individual Defendants have agreed to produce (a) trading records relating to the sales of XRP that the SEC is challenging in this case, and (b) financial records concerning the compensation that they have received from Ripple,” stated the filing.
Financial records concerning unrelated business activities, and day-today spending accounts, according to the lawyers, are not pertinent to the case at hand. The filing stated:
“As drafted, therefore, these requests demand everything from the proceeds of unrelated business activities to how much money they spend at the grocery store every week.”
The subpoenas issued by the SEC call for years of transaction data and monthly statements from Garlinghouse and Larsen’s personal bank accounts, including images of all money orders, checks, and electronic fund transfers.
However, not everyone believes the SEC's subpoenas are necessarily without merit. Attorney-at-law, and partner at Anderson Kill, Preston Byrne, told Cointelegraph that such sweeping orders were commonly granted to government agencies by courts, on the notion that the agencies were better positioned to conduct investigations than the courts themselves. Byrne said:
"The SEC is permitted to issue a subpoena pursuant to any legitimate purpose. Courts traditionally grant government agencies exercising investigative subpoena powers considerable deference under the theory that the agencies are better placed than the courts to conduct investigations," said Byrne, adding, "SEC subpoenas can accordingly be fairly sweeping and intrusive."
In Byrne's opinion, Garlinghouse and Larsen's personal financial records are indeed pursuant to the matter at hand. While Byrne isn't surprised that the Ripple execs are pushing back against this point, he will be surprised if they succeed.
"In this instance personal financial records would seem to be material to the investigation. I’m not surprised that Garlinghouse and Larsen are pushing back, but I’d be surprised if they succeed."