One of the most valuable companies in the cryptocurrency industry has said it expected to be sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating investor protection laws.
The suit is expected to accuse the San Francisco company, Ripple, of selling unregistered securities when it sold the digital token XRP to investors around the world.
Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple’s chief executive, said in an interview that the SEC informed his company Monday that it planned to file suit this week. The suit, he said, would be against the company, Garlinghouse personally and one of the company’s founders, Chris Larsen.
XRP, like Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies, has been skyrocketing in value recently. All the outstanding XRP tokens were worth around $22 billion Monday, making it the third most valuable cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ether. The token has turned Larsen and Garlinghouse into billionaires.
But XRP, which has been traded since 2012, has long been dogged by questions about how it is different from other cryptocurrencies. Unlike Bitcoin, which was released through a decentralised network of computers, XRP tokens were created and distributed by the founders of Ripple and the company they created.
The SEC has indicated in the past that this corporate setup could mean that Ripple violated laws against selling unregistered securities. The comments from Ripple executives Monday indicate that the regulators plan to take this argument to court.
“It’s frankly preposterous and not grounded in fact,” Garlinghouse said. “We are very confident in our position.”
The lawsuit would be a major threat to Ripple and investors in XRP because they were betting on XRP’s use as a new kind of currency. If it is ruled to be a security, that would most likely become impossible. News of the lawsuit was reported earlier by Fortune and The Wall Street Journal.
A press officer for the SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The New York Times
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