Australian Man Who Claims He Created Bitcoin Is Being Sued For Withholding Bitcoins

Australian Man Who Claims He Created Bitcoin Is Being Sued For Withholding Bitcoins

One of the financial world’s most enduring mysteries is on everyone’s mind at a Florida trial where a deceased man’s family is seeking lost assets from a former business partner.

The catch? The deceased man’s supposed assets are a share of $US65 billion ($AU86.4 billion) worth of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

The family of computer scientist, David Kleinman, who passed in 2013, is suing his former business partner Craig Wright, a 51-year-old Australian programmer currently based in London.

The other catch? Since 2016, Wright has claimed he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious figure who wrote the Bitcoin white paper in October 2008.

But the trial isn’t concerned with whether or not Wright is the mysterious figure behind the famous cryptocurrency. The trial is seeking to establish whether or not a partnership existed between the two parties.

Kleinman’s family claim Bitcoin’s creation and subsequent mining was actually a collaborative effort between David and Craig.

They argue the family is now owed half the value of the supposed 1.1. million Bitcoins rumoured to be held by ‘Satoshi’ – who Wright claims to be – as well as several billion dollars’ worth of intellectual property and blockchain technology.

Kleinman’s brother, Ira, said in a court testimony on 3 November he was at a family dinner party in 2009 when his brother told him he was working on something “bigger than Facebook” before drawing the now-famous Bitcoin logo on a piece of paper.

Vel Freedman, a lawyer for the Kleiman family, told the Wall Street Journal, “We believe the evidence will show there was a partnership to create and mine over one million bitcoin.”

Wright’s lawyers are dubious.

“We believe the court will find there’s nothing to indicate or record that they were in a partnership,” said Andrés Rivero, a lawyer for Mr Wright.

According to crypto enthusiasts, the only thing someone could use to conclusively prove they are the Bitcoin creator is the private key to the one million Bitcoins Nakamoto is rumoured to have stored. If even a single coin is removed, then that’s evidence enough.

However, most of the crypto community has largely discredited Wright’s – and by extension, Kleinman’s – claims to being the enigmatic Bitcoin architect, Satoshi Nakamoto. Even Wright himself has done so.

In May 2016, only three days after initially claiming he wrote the cryptocurrency’s white paper back in 2008, and then receiving heavy criticism for it, the London-based computer scientist and businessman wrote a four-page apology on his website.

“I broke,” he wrote. “I do not have the courage. I cannot.”

He has since deleted the post, gone back on his apology, and undertaken his own share of litigation, suing 16 software developers in May for £4 billion worth of Bitcoin he claimed ownership over. One defendant labelled the case as “bogus”.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s mysterious identity has been a major topic-of-discussion among tech-heads and curiosity seekers for over a decade.

The figure, who published the ground-breaking white paper in October 2008 under the byline ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, and who originally used the email satoshin@gmx.com, has not been seen online for over a decade.

On December 12, 2010, he, or she, or they posted they were “venturing into more complex ideas,” on the Bitcointalk.org forum. Shortly after, emails surfaced in April 2011, in which the Bitcoin creator told contacts he had “moved on to other things”.

Since then, several rumours have circled over who published the now-famous Bitcoin white paper, including a 2014 Newsweek report which named former systems engineer Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto as the elusive Bitcoin creator.

However, the California Polytechnic graduate – who shared nothing with ‘Satoshi’ but two names – denied these claims. “I got nothing to do with it,” he repeatedly told the Associated Press.

Others believe Satoshi was actually late software developer and ‘cypherpunk’ Hal Finney.

Theorists point to a range of clues including the fact Hal received the first Bitcoin transaction from ‘Satoshi’, he retired around the same time Satoshi disappeared from the web, and the fact both ‘Satoshi’ and Hal elicited staunchly libertarian and cypherpunk – one who views cryptography and privacy-enhancing software as a means for social and political upheaval – political views.

The known-running enthusiast even tweeted in January 2009 he was “Running bitcoin”.

Hal even lived only a few blocks from Dorian Nakamoto in the small Californian town, Temple City, with theorists believing Hal used Dorian as inspiration for the pseudonym.

Hal passed in August 2014 from motor neuron disease and was cryogenically frozen. As such, many crypto enthusiasts believe Satoshi Nakamoto is dead and, as a result, his rumoured hoard of over 1.1 million bitcoins will never see the light of day.

Notwithstanding, Wright is adamant he, and he alone, developed the game-changing technology, and that his relationship with Kleinman was merely simpatico.

Crypto Twitter is still split on the matter with some defending Wright, while others have labelled him a “scammer masquerading as Satoshi”.

Responding to Wall Street Journal‘s “Unmasking” article, one user tweeted, “Stop. We all know that Satoshi isn’t being unmasked at this trial.” While another came to Wright’s defence, writing, “Ya the case has developed since and will develop more this week.  Craig being Satoshi is coming out now.”

The trial will resume after a four-day break.

 




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