In a continuous effort to enhance transparency and accountability in governmental agencies, Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research (“Empower Oversight”) has recently submitted a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. This application seeks explicit records of communications between Jay Clayton, the former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and various individuals potentially linked to the SEC’s controversial cryptocurrency enforcement decisions.
Clayton’s Controversial Crypto Journey
From May 4, 2017, to December 23, 2020, Clayton notably declared Bitcoin was not a security. Furthermore, affirmations from senior SEC officials echoed his stance on Ether. Significantly, these announcements bolstered the value of both tokens. However, as Clayton’s term ended, the SEC’s sudden lawsuit against Ripple, claiming its XRP token was a security, threw the cryptocurrency community into a whirlwind of speculation.
Consequently, eyebrows raised when Clayton joined One River Asset Management post-SEC, a hedge fund centering solely on Bitcoin and Ether investments. Given these developments, Empower Oversight intensified its efforts to unearth any behind-the-scenes communication between Clayton and several identified individuals during his time at the SEC.
New Insights Bring New Questions
Additionally, with Empower Oversight’s recent FOIA request, the organization seeks comprehensive communication details between Clayton and figures such as Jasmine Burgess, John D’Agostino, and others. Besides trying to piece together Clayton’s decisions, Empower Oversight is determined to ensure no conflicts of interest during Clayton’s leadership.
Moreover, this move comes at a crucial juncture, with the SEC facing flak from cryptocurrency advocates and leading US legislators. Notably, Patrick McHenry, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, criticized the SEC for its lack of transparent regulation concerning crypto-related activities in the US.
Empower Oversight’s previous requests have already led to revelations. Notably, former senior SEC official William Hinman’s ties with his past employer, Simpson Thacher, garnered attention due to the potential implications of a conflict of interest. Hinman’s public declaration that Ethereum was not a security contrasts starkly with the SEC’s previous references to similar tokens as unregistered securities.
Hence, as the inquiries deepen and the lines connecting the dots become more evident, the cryptocurrency realm eagerly waits for clarity. These investigations will bring much-needed transparency and fairness in the rapidly evolving world of digital currencies.
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