The self-described creator of Bitcoin emphatically denied in court that his late friend and fellow computer scientist helped him launch the cryptocurrency.
While Craig Wright acknowledged that the two worked together, the Australian businessman insisted in his testimony this week that they only mined Bitcoin together for testing purposes, not for profit. If the jury accepts that explanation, it could protect Wright from having to split a $ 73 billion fortune that he would control if he really was the founder of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
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The identity of the creator has been a mystery for years. He is known to the world only as Satoshi Nakamoto, and it is unclear if he was a real person. The lawsuit is based on the idea that Wright was at least part of Satoshi Nakamoto, but that belief is not widely shared in the Bitcoin community, and nothing that has come out so far in federal court in Miami proves it to be true. .
Instead, the lawsuit has focused on the existence and nature of the partnership between Wright and the late Dave Kleiman, whose estate claims he has been defrauded of his share of the immense wealth created by their collaboration.
The Satoshi issue may not come to a head unless Kleiman’s estate prevails and he attempts to collect half of a cache of 1.1 million Bitcoins that the creator of the coin is believed to have. While the test has been underway, the world’s largest digital token hit an all-time high of $ 68,513 and has since dropped to $ 66,690.
The stakes for Wright remain high if it turns out that he is not Satoshi, as he has cryptocurrency-related businesses that were once valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, based on exhibits shown to the jury.
“Everything in my heart died when Dave died,” Wright told the jury, choking as he described their relationship.
Still, it’s just not true that the two came together to create mine, he said as he was questioned by a lawyer for the Kleiman property.
Wright was presented with emails showing him in his own words talking about Bitcoin mining with Kleiman. But he said the nature of the “mining” described in the emails is being mischaracterized.
Mining is conventionally considered as the extraction of new Bitcoin from the network by solving super complex mathematical problems that require powerful computers. By solving the problems, the miners help create blocks of transactions that make up the Bitcoin digital ledger.
Instead, Wright said, the “test” he and Kleiman did together was a follow-up to reports of Bitcoin’s involvement in illicit finance in 2011, associated with the dark web market known as Silk Road.
“Dave in 2011-2013 helped me build the system that helped me recognize that I was not a complete failure, that I had not brought something evil into the world,” Wright said.
The case against Wright relies heavily on the post-death email traffic of Kleiman, in which the Australian communicates with several associates and Ira Kleiman, Dave’s brother and representative of his estate. The jury has also heard podcast interviews in which Wright has told interviewers about Kleiman’s involvement in the Satoshi Nakamoto project.
Wright, full of emotion, claimed that he may have exaggerated the role of Kleiman after his death, in part to polish the legacy of a man he considered underrated.
“Yes, I exaggerated about a loved one with someone I thought was my family,” he said.
Wright’s lawyer, Andrés Rivero, has pointed out that email traffic among men during the time period that Bitcoin was created does not mention the project. Kleiman’s brother was specifically asked about the “white paper” that set out the peer-to-peer implementation plan, and if he had seen correspondence showing that his brother was involved in it.
“I wouldn’t know because I never had access to those emails,” Ira Kleiman said.
© 2021 Bloomberg