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DEC 23, 2023

Terraform Labs civil trial proceeds with confidential filings

by CoinNess Global

Singaporean blockchain development firm Terraform Labs, the creator of the failed Terra blockchain protocol, has reached an agreement on a protective order in their ongoing civil case with the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Data shielded from public disclosure

The decision, sanctioned by the U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, ensures that materials marked as confidential by the involved parties will remain shielded from public disclosure. The court is obligated to seal any discovery filings labeled confidential ahead of the trial.
Judge Rakoff conveyed his likelihood of denying requests to unseal these confidential documents, although the order did not delve into the specific rationale for maintaining their confidential status beyond citing “good cause.” The finalized agreement on this protective order took place on Dec. 18, with legal representatives from both the SEC and Terraform Labs, including co-founder Do Kwon, giving their consent. Kwon, presently detained in Montenegro, faces potential extradition to the United States or South Korea.

Pivotal moment

The depegging of Terraform’s stablecoin TerraUSD (UST) from the U.S. dollar marked a turning point in the cryptocurrency sector. This event is believed to have significantly contributed to the crypto market downturn in 2022, as it had a knock-on effect on countless other crypto businesses and platforms that were over-exposed to the flawed algorithmic currency.
That chain of events led to the SEC taking action after the fact. However, it has subsequently also pursued a much criticized “regulation by enforcement” policy relative to the crypto sector. To that end, the Commission has pending cases against Coinbase, Ripple, Kraken and Binance, among others.
In February, the SEC accused Terraform Labs and Do Kwon of conducting a multi-billion dollar crypto asset securities fraud by offering and selling unregistered securities. As proceedings have unfolded, both Terraform and the SEC have traded unsuccessful attempts to obtain summary judgment.

Far-reaching consequences

The ongoing SEC vs. Terraform civil case carries potential far-reaching consequences in terms of legal precedents within the cryptocurrency sector. In a separate ruling in August, the court allowed Terra to issue subpoenas to FTX entities as part of FTX’s bankruptcy proceedings. Judge Rakoff, in November, accepted confidential materials from Jump Crypto Holdings for discovery in this case.
Troubled crypto lender Genesis Trading has also been tangled up in the proceedings with the courts directing it to comply with a subpoena initiated by Terraform Labs. The outcome of this case is poised to offer essential legal guidance for numerous companies operating in the crypto space.
The SEC’s regulatory approach toward cryptocurrency firms in the United States has been subject to considerable debate and criticism. The commission’s alleged “regulation by enforcement” strategy, especially in dealings with major players in the crypto industry, has drawn accusations.
While many in the U.S. have been unhappy with “regulation by enforcement,” the upside is that over the longer haul, the courts will be able to eventually furnish the regulatory clarity that the SEC refuses to provide. The ongoing scrutiny of regulatory approaches and the outcomes of cases like Terraform Labs vs. SEC will undoubtedly shape the future legal landscape of the cryptocurrency industry.
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