Cryptocurrency startup Ripple hires new CFO amid SEC lawsuit

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Dive Brief:

  • As it fights the Securities and Exchange Commission’s suit alleging investor-protection law violations, San Francisco-based Ripple Labs has hired a new CFO, Kristina Campbell, it announced Tuesday

  • The lawsuit hinges on whether XRP — the digital asset the company’s founders developed in 2012 — is a security, which must be registered with the SEC, Garlinghouse said.

  • Ripple in March said the suit “amounts to picking virtual currency winners and losers” because the SEC has exempted Bitcoin and Ether from similar regulation. The regulator, last month in a court filing, accused the company of trying to “harass” the regulator — and of “gamesmanship with respect to discovery.”

Dive Insight:

Campbell spent the past five years as CFO of billing and payments firm PayNearMe. Prior to that, she served in various operations and management roles at fintech Green Dot. 

Ron Will, who had been Ripple’s CFO since 2017, left the company in February for a finance chief role at San Francisco-based Hinge Health, a digital clinic.

Analysts view the SEC’s case against Ripple as a test of its approach to regulating cryptocurrencies, The Wall Street Journal said.

As CFO, Campbell will be responsible for setting Ripple’s financial strategy, the company said in a statement.

“Ripple is uniquely positioned to improve global payments in ways that have yet to be defined, and I’m excited to be a part of that solution,” she said. 

Also Tuesday, Ripple named former U.S. Treasurer Rosa Gumataotao Rios to its board of directors. Rios held the treasurer role from 2009 to 2016, overseeing the U.S. Mint and advising the Treasury secretary.  

“These two exceptional leaders join Ripple at a pivotal time for the company,” Garlinghouse said in a statement. “We are extremely fortunate to have them on the team as we continue our rapid international growth and to champion for regulatory clarity in the U.S.” 

Rios, in a statement Tuesday, said, “Blockchain and digital assets will underpin our future global financial systems.”

Cryptocurrency is the what. Ripple is the how,” she added.

“Digital asset technology allows us to rethink and improve the systems and infrastructure around how money moves,” Campbell said. “With this technology, we will make the global financial system accessible to all.”

The SEC said Garlinghouse and Larsen “created an information vacuum” that allowed them to sell nearly $1.4 billion in XRP into a market that only had information they chose to share. The coin lost 60% of its worth in the week after the regulator filed its suit, Bloomberg reported, and Coinbase delisted it.

Garlinghouse in December blasted the timing of the suit, which was filed about a week before then-SEC Chairman Jay Clayton was set to leave office.

“Clayton did this with one foot out the door. Rather shamefully, he has decided to sue Ripple, and leave the legal work to the next chairman,” Garlinghouse said.

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