Ripple and Coinbase Use Binance Case to Challenge SEC

Both Ripple and Coinbase are using rulings made by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the SEC vs Binance case to strengthen their own cases against the regulator.

Ripple is trying to strengthen its defense against the SEC by referring to a recent ruling in the SEC v. Binance case, which dismissed claims that certain cryptocurrency sales were securities. Similarly, Coinbase is leveraging this ruling to challenge the SEC's regulatory approach, and is accusing the agency of inconsistent rule-making. Meanwhile, Binance.US is braced and ready for an extended legal battle with the SEC over its alleged securities violations. In Nigeria, Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan's trial for money laundering continues, despite some health concerns and diplomatic efforts for his release.

Ripple Uses Binance Case to Strengthen Defense Against SEC

San Francisco-based enterprise blockchain company Ripple recently filed a notice of supplementary authority regarding a ruling in the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Binance case. On June 28, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia partially granted Binance's motion to dismiss claims that sales of certain cryptocurrencies constituted securities sales. 

Ripple's notice pointed out that the court followed the summary judgment decision in the SEC v. Ripple Labs case issued by Judge Analisa Torres on July 13 of 2023. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson specifically referred to the Ripple ruling in the Binance decision, following Judge Torres's logic by distinguishing between secondary market sales and institutional sales. 

Additionally, the court criticized the SEC’s approach to industry oversight through litigation, stating that it fails to provide relevant parties with sufficient clarity. Ripple believes this observation supports its argument that clarifying the legal status of various cryptocurrencies was a crucial aspect of the summary judgment decision. 

The company argues that this regulatory uncertainty indicates it did not show "reckless disregard" for the law with its XRP sales, which suggests that the harsh remedies requested by the SEC are completely unwarranted. Ripple is still involved in a remedies dispute with the SEC, which requested more than $2 billion in fines and penalties from the company.

Coinbase Also Leverages Binance Ruling to Challenge SEC

Coinbase is also building on the momentum from Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ruling in the SEC v. Binance case. The exchange specifically referred to her decision that secondary sales of Binance’s BNB token do not constitute securities sales under the Howey test criteria. 

In a letter, Coinbase’s attorneys accused the SEC of randomly engaging in rule-making without a consistent framework, and argued that the SEC has never clearly explained its regulatory process but is trying to impose it on the digital asset industry through aggressive enforcement.

On June 27, Coinbase filed a lawsuit against the SEC and the Federal Deposit Trust Corporation. The exchange alleges that both agencies conspired to keep the crypto industry out of the banking sector. Coinbase argued that the agencies also failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and neglected to provide industry participants with documentation related to their rulemaking deliberations about Ethereum’s transition to a digital asset ecosystem secured by staking.

This is not the first time the SEC’s categorization of ETH faced some scrutiny. In 2018, SEC Corporation Finance Director William Hinman stated that ETH was not a security because of  the sufficient decentralization of the smart contract protocol. Hinman’s opinion later became a focal point of Ripple Labs’ argument that the SEC unfairly labeled the XRP token as an unregistered security without consistent criteria defining “securities contract.” 

These legal missteps by the SEC have drawn a lot of criticism from agency insiders, like SEC Commissioner Mark Uyeda, who called the agency’s treatment of the crypto industry “problematic.”

Binance.US, the United States-based arm of the crypto exchange Binance, is preparing itself for legal battles with the SEC. In an announcement on X, Binance.US shared that it is ready for an extended period of legal discovery, stating, “On Friday, the Court decided that the SEC’s case against Binance.US will continue. We were prepared for this and look forward to having this case move forward in the judicial process.”

The SEC’s allegations against Binance.US revolve around securities law violations. The regulator alleges that Binance offers unregistered investment products, and that it breached anti-fraud laws. 

Binance.US reiterated that it was created to serve U.S. customers and complies with U.S. rules and regulations. The exchange maintains 1:1 reserves for all customer assets and has robust compliance and risk programs to ensure the safety, security, and integrity of its platform.

Binance.US also criticized the SEC’s regulatory approach, and described it as “regulation by enforcement”. Coinbase also speculated that the firm’s challenges can be attributed to politically motivated actions by the current administration, led by Chair Gary Gensler. The exchange pointed out that it is just one of many companies in the industry that have fallen victim to the SEC’s politically motivated overreach.

Despite being very confident in its legal standing and its opinion that the SEC has yet to identify any evidence of wrongdoing, Binance.US still failed to convince a U.S. court to dismiss most of the SEC’s claims against it. The court maintained the SEC’s allegation that Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao acted as a “control person.” 

Nigeria Proceeds with Case Against Binance Exec

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Nigeria will continue with a case brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive that has been detained in the country since February. According to Gambaryan’s family spokesperson, his legal team completed its cross-examination of an EFCC witness on July 2. The government filed money laundering charges against Gambaryan and fellow Binance executive Nadeem Anjarwalla, who escaped custody in March and reportedly fled to Kenya.

Gambaryan’s trial is set to resume on July 5, but his family reported his health has deteriorated during his 128-day detention. He has suffered from double pneumonia and malaria, and has reported foot and back pains. 

Gambaryan’s wife, Yuki, has been in contact with U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy officials in Abuja and has been in regular communication with Binance staff and her husband's lawyers. Yuki also pointed out that the U.S. government’s response has improved a bit recently, though she initially found it very slow.

At first, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were charged with tax evasion and money laundering in February after traveling to Nigeria as Binance representatives. Anjarwalla escaped to Kenya in March and now faces possible extradition back to Nigeria. In June, Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service dropped the tax evasion charges, but the money laundering case is still active.

Many U.S. officials and observers have criticized the Nigerian authorities for holding the executives accountable for the company’s alleged actions. On June 20, U.S. Representatives French Hill and Chrissy Houlahan visited Gambaryan in Kuje Prison, urging for his release on humanitarian grounds. 

Yuki Gambaryan launched a petition to bring her husband back to the U.S., which had about 4,886 signatures, which was close to its goal of 5,000. The petition results are expected to be forwarded to the U.S. State Department, President Joe Biden, the EFCC, and the Nigerian government.