Bitcoin trial prompts a fascinating question: Who actually developed the cryptocurrency?

Billions of dollars of Bitcoin are the centre of the legal dispute

Graig Graziosi
Monday 01 November 2021 20:50
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Craig Wright's Multibillion-Dollar Bitcoin Trial Starts Next Week
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A court battle over billions of dollars worth of the Bitcoin is set to begin on 1 November, but for some cryptocurrency fans the case's real draw is the potential answer to a years old question: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The case of Kleiman v Wright pits Australian computer scientist Craig Wright – who claims he is the man behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin – against claims that he stole billions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency from the estate of a deceased Florida man, Dave Kleiman.

The suit has been brought against Mr Wright by the brother of Mr Kleiman, who died in 2013. The suit claims that Mr Kleiman collaborated with Mr Wright in the early development of Bitcoin and that the Kleiman estate is entitled to half the value of the man's 1.1m Bitcoins.

A full Bitcoin currently is valued at $62,545 each.

The suit alleges that Mr Wright currently controls Mr Kleiman's stash of Bitcoins, Bloomberg reports.

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have been hopeful that the case will ultimately determine whether or not Mr Wright is truly the creator of Bitcoin.

Mr Wright's claim that he is the creator have been questioned among the crypto community for years.

Aaron Brown, a crypto investor who writes opinion pieces for Bloomberg, said there is little evidence supporting his claim.

"Wright is definitely an important early innovator in cryptocurrency, and is also rich from cryptocurrency," Mr Brown said. "Beyond that, his claims to be the main or only author of the original Bitcoin white paper have little support."

Mr Wright has sued Bitcoin.org for alleged copyright infringement for publishing the Bitcoin White Paper on its website.

Forbes' Hailey Lennon also doubts Mr Wright's claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto.

"There is a chance Wright does own these rights, though we think that chance is a small one (a judicial fact-finder will be in a better position to determine this)," she wrote. "We don’t know, we weren’t there when the Bitcoin White Paper was written, and if we had been, there’s a good possibility we’d be sipping mojitos in Tahiti right now instead of practicing law."

She also noted that Mr Wright has either not been able to or not been willing to publicly show that he can access the Bitcoins he would presumably have access to if he were in fact Nakamoto.

The lawsuit was originally filed three years ago, but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Wright has faced criticism from the judge overseeing the case for allegedly producing forged documents and making allegedly perjurious testimony. Mr Wright has not faced sanctions over the alleged infractions.

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