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First SEC Official to Say Ether Is Not a Security Is Leaving the Agency Later This Year

William Hinman, the director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance, is planning to leave the agency later this year.

Oct 27, 2020 at 7:24 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:24 a.m. UTC

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Tuesday that William Hinman, the director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance, is planning to conclude his tenure later this year. 

Notably, Hinman was the first official at the agency to say that, in his view, the native currency of the Ethereum blockchain, ether (ETH), was not a security. Speaking at an event in 2018, Hinman said that since there is no central figure or group responsible for ETH, it “may not represent an investment contract.”

Hinman has worked for the SEC for over three years, playing a key role in the SEC’s efforts to regulate the cryptocurrency industry. Hinman helped provide a framework that market participants could use to evaluate whether digital assets are offered and sold as securities. 

Tuesday’s announcement also said Hinman led the SEC’s work on revising the criteria for accredited investors. While the SEC’s announcement did not indicate a specific reason for his departure, it noted Hinman’s contributions to multiple areas such as improving disclosures to investors and leading the creation of the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub).

Following Hinman’s departure, the deputy director of the division, Shelley Parratt, will serve as the acting director for the division of corporation finance, the SEC said Tuesday.

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