Federal Judge Orders Kik Technical Advisor to Sit for Deposition With SEC


Kik technical advisor Tanner Philp must be deposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) related to the company’s 2017 kin token sale, elongating the discovery process in the messaging app’s battle with federal regulators.

The agreement was made Wednesday before District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York. Overseeing the latest motion for discovery in this $100 million ICO standoff, Judge Hellerstein initially ruled that Kik CEO Ted Livingston should appear for a deposition, but attorneys for both sides appeared to come to an agreement to have Philp appear instead.

Judge Hellerstein said the deposition should focus on the nature of Kik Interactive’s business from 2018 to the present.

According to court documents, Philp already provided testimony in August 2018.

The SEC wants Kik to provide more testimony, documents and details on its business and plans surrounding the kin token offering. The regulator alleged Kik violated federal securities laws last year during the kin sale, suing the messaging platform in federal court in June.

It originally filed a sweeping motion for discovery on Oct. 25, but amended that notice with a pared-down motion on Dec 8. 

Such documents could shed light on Kik’s thinking in the run-up to its initial coin offering, including its executives’ thoughts on the digital asset offering report issued by the SEC in 2017.

Kik disputed the SEC’s request in past filings, saying the provided written answers made further testimony redundant. 

Kik had asked Judge Hellerstein to nix further depositions. In a joint letter on Jan. 14, Kik’s legal team argued the SEC had already taken hours of testimony from senior management – including Livingston – and collected thousands of documents in the regulator’s multi-year investigation. It called for a protective order that would have restricted the discovery process.

It said the SEC’s latest deposition notices were over-broad and under-detailed. Kik said the SEC did not adequately explain its need for further testimony, citing the deposition rule, Rule 30(b)(6), and saying the rule requires deposition notices explain their investigatory intent with “painstaking specificity.”

The SEC rejected those claims in its portion of the joint letter. It argued its deposition notices do indeed seek “relevant” information and further quibbled with Kik’s interpretation of rule 30(b)(6), which it pointed out reads “reasonable particularity,” not “painstaking specificity.”

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