Bitcoin ‘Creator’ Craig Wright Repeatedly Lied, Rules UK Judge

The self-proclaimed bitcoin inventor, Australian computer scientist Craig Wright, has faced a damming assessment according to a ruling on Monday at London’s High Court.

Reuters reported that a judge at London’s High Court ruled that Craig Wright had lied “extensively and repeatedly” and forged documents “on a grand scale” to support his false claim that he was the inventor of bitcoin.

The ruling comes after Mr Justice Mellor (a High Court judge) had ruled in March that Australian computer scientist Craig Wright was not ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, and that he would give his full reasons for his decision at a later date.

Court case

The court case in London had begun on 5 February 2024 after the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) took Dr Wright to court to stop him suing bitcoin developers.

This was because since May 2019, Craig Wright has been using English libel law to sue people who denied he was the inventor of bitcoin, and who called him a fraud. The alliance asked for a ruling that Dr Wright was not Satoshi.

COPA – whose members include Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s payments firm Block, previously said it had brought the lawsuit to preserve the open-source nature of bitcoin.

Australian IT researcher, businessman, and computer scientist Craig Wright had claimed in a blog post in May 2016, that he was Satoshi Nakamoto – the pseudonym used by the person (or persons) who developed bitcoin.

Nakamoto carried out the initial research underlying bitcoin and apparently ended his involvement in the digital currency in 2011.

Craig Wright in his blog post in 2016 provided a cryptographic signature that’s among those known to have been used by Nakamoto.

Wright has previously told the BBC that he created bitcoin. “I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright told the BBC. “Some people will believe, Some people won’t, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care.”

Gavin Andresen, whom Nakamoto chose to succeed him as chief scientist of the bitcoin Foundation, supported Wright’s claim.

He said his conclusion was based on a visit to London, where Wright lives, and “a careful cryptographic verification of messages signed with keys that only Satoshi should possess”.

But many in the crypto community were (and continue to be) sceptical of Wright’s claim, in part because he has not moved any of the early bitcoin presumed to have been mined by Satoshi.

COPA has accused Wright of repeatedly forging documents to substantiate his claim, including during the trial itself, which Wright denied when he gave evidence.

Judge’s ruling

Now Mr Justice Mellor gave the reasons for his conclusions on Monday, stating in a lengthy written ruling: “Dr Wright presents himself as an extremely clever person. However, in my judgement, he is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.”

“Overall, in my judgement, (and whether that distinction is maintained or not), Dr Wright’s attempts to prove he was/is Satoshi Nakamoto represent a most serious abuse of this Court’s process,” wrote the judge. “The same point applies to other jurisdictions as well.”

“In all three jurisdictions, it is clear that Dr Wright engaged in the deliberate production of false documents to support false claims and use the Courts as a vehicle for fraud,” wrote the judge.

“Despite acknowledging in this Trial that a few documents were inauthentic, he steadfastly refused to acknowledge any of the forged documents. Instead, he lied repeatedly and extensively in his attempts to deflect the allegations of forgery.”

Mr Justice Mellor also said that Wright’s actions in suing developers and his expressed views about bitcoin also pointed against him being Satoshi.

COPA welcomed Monday’s ruling in a series of tweets on X (formerly Twitter).

Wright appeal

However Craig Wright, said in a post on X: “I fully intend to appeal the decision of the court on the matter of the identity issue.”

Bitcoin history

The arrival of bitcoin has an interesting backstory.

In 2008, just as the world was being engulfed in a financial crisis of epic portions, Satoshi Nakamoto published a nine-page white paper detailing a vision for bitcoin – a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system” that would function outside the reach of governments.

A few months after that, Nakamoto released software that allowed users to mine for the cryptocurrency.

The first bitcoin (BTC) was mined on 3 January 2009, by “Satoshi Nakamoto,” which is now recognised as the pseudonym of the person or group of people who created bitcoin.

Nakamoto remained on the scene until 2011, at which point he abruptly left the project after emailing a fellow developer to say that they had “moved on to other things.”

Before vanishing, the enigmatic creator is believed to have mined as many as 1.1 million bitcoin.

Previous investigations have named a number of possible identities for Nakamoto, including a Californian man whose name is in fact Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, and who later claimed never to have heard of the currency before the report that linked him to it.

Some involved with bitcoin argued Satoshi’s identity no longer matters to bitcoin, which is based on an open source protocol that can’t be controlled by any single individual or organisation.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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