SEC Charges Ripple (Cryptocurrency) & Execs With “Unregistered Securities Offering”, And If That’s Not Enough, Ripple Says Bitcoin is “Chinese-controlled”!

Uh-oh Bitcoin Fanboys!

(by Half Dollar) People think I don’t get Bitcoin.

I suppose I don’t get it.

I mean, I’m only an academically educated and professionally trained computer hardware and software expert with networking and cybersecurity skills, and I do have various tech certifications and degrees, but it’s not like I write code for Microsoft’s adware operating systems or ransomware Office 365, so there are indeed people who technically know a whole lot more about a whole lot less than I do, but if I am an expert in all of that techie stuff and yet I still don’t get Bitcoin, then I suppose I’m either an idiot when it comes to math or an idiot when it comes to money.

Or both.

Because that’s what it really comes down to.

Meh.

Doesn’t matter.

People will just have to learn the hard way.

They always do.

Rob Kirby and I had a lengthy discussion on Bitcoin last week:

Rob had a lot to say about Bitcoin and China.

Speaking of which, Just today, the SEC charged Ripple and two execs with conducting “unregistered securities offering” (bold added for emphasis and commentary):

Washington D.C., Dec. 22, 2020 —

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it has filed an action against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executives, who are also significant security holders, alleging that they raised over $1.3 billion through an unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Ripple; Christian Larsen, the company’s co-founder, executive chairman of its board, and former CEO; and Bradley Garlinghouse, the company’s current CEO, raised capital to finance the company’s business. The complaint alleges that Ripple raised funds, beginning in 2013, through the sale of digital assets known as XRP in an unregistered securities offering to investors in the U.S. and worldwide. Ripple also allegedly distributed billions of XRP in exchange for non-cash consideration, such as labor and market-making services. According to the complaint, in addition to structuring and promoting the XRP sales used to finance the company’s business, Larsen and Garlinghouse also effected personal unregistered sales of XRP totaling approximately $600 million. The complaint alleges that the defendants failed to register their offers and sales of XRP or satisfy any exemption from registration, in violation of the registration provisions of the federal securities laws.

Seems super easy to go after digital “assets”, doesn’t it?

Now, here are some selected excerpts from a document posted at Ripple.com titled “Summary of Ripple’s Wells Submission” (bold added for emphasis and commentary), and notice an interesting theme emerging:

The SEC’s theory, that XRP is an investment contract, is wrong on the facts, the
law and the equities.

*****

XRP is a fully functional currency that offers a better alternative to bitcoin.

*****

XRP is a widely adopted digital asset based on an open-source blockchain
technology, with an extremely robust, fully-functioning currency market.
XRP consistently ranks among the top three virtual currencies by market
capitalization—alongside bitcoin and ether, the two Chinese-controlled
virtual currencies
that the SEC has stated are not securities.

*****

Many entities own large amounts of commodities and
participate heavily in the commodities markets—Exxon
holds large quantities of oil, De Beers owns large quantities
of diamonds, Bitmain and other Chinese miners own a
large percentage of outstanding bitcoin.
And all three have
an interest that may be aligned with purchasers of the
underlying asset. But no one credibly argues that those
substantial holdings convert those commodities or
currencies into securities.

*****

Policy reasons counsel against finding XRP to be an investment contract.
A. Innovation in the cryptocurrency industry will be fully ceded to China. The
Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains are highly susceptible to Chinese control
because both are subject to simple majority rule, whereas the XRPL prevents
comparable centralization.

Chinese control?

That doesn’t sound good.

Developing…

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