Australian billionaire Craig Wright has claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. Many prominent people in the industry have debunked his claim and some seem to consider it an elaborate hoax. When he recently attempted to sue Roger Ver, early investor in Bitcoin and current Bitcoin Cash promoter, for libel and tainting his reputation by calling Wright a fraud, a judge of the High Court of England and Wales dismissed his lawsuit. He has other libel lawsuits pending. For an excellent in-depth look at Wright and his claims, check out this article by Daniel Kuhn, writing for Coindesk.
Hold On, This is Going to Hurt
Wright also lost his latest, more costly legal battle last month. He was ordered by a judge to give up 50 percent of the Bitcoin he owned as of December 31, 2013 plus the intellectual property rights of Bitcoin’s software, to the estate of his former business partner David Kleiman for allegedly trying to seize Kleiman’s Bitcoin holdings after he died in April 2013. The judge said it was “established that Wright and David Kleiman entered into a 50/50 partnership to develop Bitcoin intellectual property and to mine bitcoin.”
The lawsuit was brought in 2018 by Ira Kleiman, the brother of David. Ira alleged that Wright misappropriated between 550,000 and 1.1 million bitcoins that David and Wright had mined together. In addition, the former business partners owned patents and intellectual property (IP) rights to various blockchain technologies. Wright has repeatedly claimed that both he and Kleiman were part of Bitcoin’s creation, and whether or not that makes him Satoshi Nakomoto, it is undeniable that the partners have been very involved in the technological aspects of Bitcoin since the beginning.
Wright claims that all of the Bitcoin he mined was done solo, and not in partnership with Kleiman. In his decision, Judge Bruce E. Reinhart of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida considered Wright’s argument to be in bad faith, and ruled that he commited perjury and admitted false evidence into the case. Judge Reinhart also said that the court was not required to decide and would not decide whether Wright was Satoshi Nakomoto. In addition, Judge Reinhart also said that the court “is not required to decide, and does not decide, how much Bitcoin, if any, Dr. Wright controls today.” (Note: Craig Wright was awarded a PhD in computer science from Charles Sturt University in 2017, hence the title of Dr.)
Bigger Than a Category 5 Storm
Dr. Wright has been given time to prepare arguments challenging the judge’s decision, and his response is due September 10. Seizing on the misfortunes of Mother Nature, Wright is claiming that complications in Florida due to Hurricane Dorian will prevent him from making that deadline, and he has asked for more two extra weeks to come up with his response. It appears that the motion for a time extension has been approved as the deadline now appears to be September 24, 2019.
Unless Wright can come up with a persuasive response, he will be forced to give up half of the Bitcoin he mined while in partnership with David Kleiman and half of their joint IP to Kleiman’s estate. While the exact number of Bitcoins that represents has not been determined, it is estimated that by today’s prices of Bitcoin, Wright will have to hand over up to $10 billion dollars worth of the cryptocurrency.
Regardless of what the final outcome of this legal proceeding will be, it is safe to say that the controversy and mystery surrounding Wright’s claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto and the role of he and David Kleiman in the invention of Bitcoin will continue to be studied and debated.