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SEC wants early victory in its FOIA lawsuit

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) urged the federal judge in Virginia to award it an early victory in its records fight with a watchdog group over papers that may indicate conflicts of interest on August 29. The lawsuit names former senior SEC employees with regard to their actions monitoring cryptocurrencies. In a court filing, the SEC claimed that it had previously provided all the records that the organisation, Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research, had initially requested and that it was legally permitted to do so.

According to the Law360 report on September 1, the SEC contends that any document withholding or suppression was legally justifiable and that its search procedure only needed to be adequately planned to locate all relevant information. As per SEC’s statement in support of its move for summary judgement, their searches frequently “parrot the precise time range, domain names, and email inboxes that the plaintiff clearly identified in its FOIA request,” which the plaintiff had used in the FOIA request.

“The SEC is not required to continue catering to a plaintiff’s newfound, after-the-fact inquiries,” the agency says. These requests were not included in the plaintiff’s initial FOIA request.

The three former SEC officials—chairman Jay Clayton, corporate finance chief William Hinman, and acting enforcement leader Marc Berger—and the judgments they took on particular cryptocurrencies were the subject of Empower’s document requests. The SEC also stated that it censored “a tiny number of the documents to safeguard the names and contact information of SEC Division of Enforcement officials who worked on an SEC investigation into Simpson Thacher’s client, AT&T,” in accordance with an exception for law enforcement materials that may reasonably be considered to be a privacy invasion. The SEC stated that there is a “strong privacy interest” in keeping these employees’ names private in order to avoid any harassment or media outreach.

Attorney John Deaton criticised the SEC for concealing its actions. He said that the Hinmans’ other sources of income were in addition to their retirement fund. But back in 2017 and 2018, he earned two different sorts of money for his presentations. Hinman received $1.57 million as his pension. While he also earned a profit share of over $9 million.

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Vaishali Goel
Technology enthusiast, explorer and academic scholar. Currently exploring the crypto world. Join me in my journey to see how crypto, NFT and Metaverse will change the world.


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