In 2015, a series of articles penned by Gizmodo and Wired outlined the possibility that Australian academic Craig Wright was the hand behind ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, the anonymous author who penned the Bitcoin white paper. While Wright has never outrightly dismissed the claim, the businessman now faces a lawsuit over some 1,1 million BTC – which amounts to a whopping $10 billion USD.
Wright, who now works as the chief scientist for nChain, faces a lawsuit brought forward by Ira Kleiman on behalf of the estate of his brother, the late Dave Kleiman. Dave Kleiman has been similarly linked to Bitcoin’s origins and has also been thought to have been Satoshi Nakamoto.
At the heart of the lawsuit sits some 1.1 million BTC, which Ira Kleiman’s lawyers have valued for the purposes of the dispute at $10 billion USD. Court papers accuse Wright of orchestrating “a scheme against Dave’s estate to seize Dave’s bitcoins and his rights to certain intellectual property associated with the Bitcoin technology.”
Ira Kleiman’s attorneys describe that “…as part of this plan, Craig forged a series of contracts that purported to transfer Dave’s assets to Craig and/or companies controlled by him. Craig backdated these contracts and forged Dave’s signature on them”.
Craig Wright and Dave Kleiman reportedly worked together to furnish Bitcoin into existence; court documents allege the two men collaborated from March of 2008 to develop the Bitcoin network. Following its launch, the two later sent each other Bitcoin transactions which were recorded on the blockchain.
Kleiman later passed away in 2013 in mysterious circumstances, and has been attributed by Wright to have been involved in the creation of Bitcoin.
The lost fortune
Discovered after Kleiman’s death, an unfinished draft of a trust contract purportedly reveal that Wright entrusted Kleiman with a sum of 1.1 million BTC in 2011, which Kleiman would return at a later date.
The funds were reportedly stored on a heavy-duty USB drive which Dave Kleiman kept on his person at all times. Ira Kleiman reportedly now owns the drive, but might not be able to access the contents given the fact that the late Kleiman reportedly encrypted its contents with a proprietary cipher.
The dispute between Ira Kleiman and Craig Wright – notably – does not aim to resolve the mysterious identity of Satoshi Nakamoto – elaborating that “it is unclear whether Craig, Dave and/or both created Bitcoin”. Court papers reveal that “For reasons not yet completely clear, they chose to keep their involvement in Bitcoin hidden from most of their family and friends. It is undeniable, however, that Craig and Dave were involved in Bitcoin from its inception and that they both accumulated a vast wealth of bitcoins from 2009 through 2013”.
When asked about the lawsuit, Wright issued a one-word retort:
— Dr Craig S Wright (@ProfFaustus) February 26, 2018
The dispute has now been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where the matter will soon be heard upon Wright’s response. The number of Bitcoins in question, as well as their value, will be determined during the trial.
We’ll update this story as news emerges.
Have your say!
What are your thoughts? Could either Craig Wright or Dave Kleiman individually – or collectively – be Satoshi Nakamoto? Be sure to let us know your opinion on Twitter – join the conversation @coininsidercom!