SEC seeks $2b fine from Ripple Labs for misconduct

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The U.S. SEC has proposed a $1.95 billion penalty against Ripple Labs, urging a New York court to assess the gravity of the company’s actions.

The request comes as part of a proposed final judgment submitted to Judge Analisa Torres on Monday. The SEC’s proposed penalty comprises $876 million in disgorgement, $198 million in prejudgment interest, and an additional $876 million as a civil penalty.

The heart of the SEC’s argument is the alleged “severity and pervasiveness of Ripple’s misconduct,” emphasizing the necessity of a “strong deterrent message” not only to Ripple but also to other entities contemplating public capital raising through unregistered crypto-asset transactions. This stance was outlined in the court filing, highlighting the regulatory body’s concerns over maintaining market integrity.

Ripple has been at odds with the SEC for several years following accusations from the agency that Ripple raised $1.3 billion via sales of XRP, which the SEC deems an unregistered security.

In a partial victory for Ripple last year, Judge Torres found that certain XRP sales, termed “programmatic,” did not breach securities laws thanks to a blind bid process. However, she sided with the SEC regarding direct sales to institutional investors, classifying them as securities transactions.

The current contention primarily focuses on these direct institutional sales, with the SEC alleging that Ripple unlawfully earned nearly $1 billion from such activities. The regulatory body argues that Ripple’s actions undermine the foundational requirement for securities transactions to be registered, thereby threatening the legal framework of financial markets.

According to the SEC, Ripple’s ability to convert “billions of units of computer code” into substantial financial gain without regulatory compliance sets a dangerous precedent.

In response, Ripple’s executive team, in a statement on the social media platform X, criticized the SEC’s approach and the forthcoming fines and penalties. Describing the SEC’s actions as misleading and punitive, Ripple counsel Stuart Alderoty accused the regulator of deviating from lawful application in favor of intimidation tactics against Ripple and the broader industry.

Ripple has announced plans to file a formal response by April 22, as indicated by the SEC.

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