Bitcoin BS: UK judge says Craig Wright, the Australian who claims to be the cryptocurrency’s inventor lied ‘extensively and repeatedly’

- May 23, 2024 3 MIN READ
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A UK judge has ruled Australian businessman Craig Wright forged documents and lied repeatedly to support his long-running claim of being Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.

Wright has notoriously professed the pseudonymous title under a years-long claim of having created leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin – fuelling tenuous conflicts among the crypto community as he launched lawsuit after lawsuit built upon his unproven identity.

In 2021, a collection of cryptocurrency companies under the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) initiated a civil lawsuit against Wright in an effort to protect developers from his ongoing legal pursuits.

Now, in a damning judgement published on May 20, London high court judge Justice Mellor said he was satisfied Wright “lied to the Court extensively and repeatedly” both in his written evidence and in days of oral evidence under cross-examination and is a “thoroughly unreliable witness” who engaged in forgery on a “grand scale”.

“Most of his lies related to the documents he had forged which purported to support his claim,” wrote Mellor.

“All his lies and forged documents were in support of his biggest lie: his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto.”

After a “highly iterative process” which involved a “very large number of pieces of evidence”, Mellor implied Wright was an “accomplished liar” who would frequently resort to dishonest and evasive behaviour “as soon as one lie was exposed”.

The final destination frequently turned out to be either Dr Wright blaming some other (often unidentified) person for his predicament or what can only be described as technobabble delivered by him in the witness box,” said Mellor.

Craig Wright

The court documents detail droves of arduous courtroom interactions where Wright defends his claim, covering such minutia as hour-long differences in the creation of documents, the arrangement of decimal places in text outputs, and how frequently Wright took screenshots when making changes to files.

All-in-all, Mellor discerned that although Wright “presents himself as an extremely clever person”, the self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor “is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is”.

Mellor stressed the technology involved in the case “is not particularly complex” compared to other cases he’s dealt with, and that the more complex areas of technology did not concern Bitcoin itself as much the evidence which “exposed [Wright’s] forgeries”.

“The picture painted by Dr Wright in his evidence was, in essence, that he was solely responsible for creating Bitcoin, that he was much cleverer than anyone else, that anyone who questioned his claim or his evidence was not qualified to do so or just didn’t understand what he was saying,” said Mellor.

“In my judgement, the arrogance he displayed was at odds with what comes through from Satoshi’s writing.

“In short, in his writing and attitude Dr Wright just doesn’t sound or act like Satoshi.”

The judgement follows a 14 March verdict by Mellor which ended the six-week trial by declaring Wright did not author a pivotal Bitcoin White Paper, create the Bitcoin system, or adopt the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym between 2008 and 2011.

The lawsuit saw COPA seek a ruling to determine Wright is not Satoshi and prevent him from suing other developers and members of the crypto community.

The judgement will ultimately prevent Wright from introducing further lawsuits in the UK, with Mellor noting “in view of the extremely unpleasant threats which Dr Wright has made in the past against some of the individual developers in particular, I was minded to make declarations to ensure that Dr Wright would not have any possible basis on which to threaten them with copyrights or database rights stemming from the work done by Satoshi Nakamoto”.

In March, Mellor also imposed a global freezing order on $11.4 million (US$7.6 million) worth of Wright’s assets to ensure he couldn’t evade costs from the trial, stating COPA has “a very powerful claim to be awarded a very substantial sum in costs.”

Following the ruling, Wright has pulled out of multiple lawsuits related to his long-running claims, and has further dropped an appeal of a notorious lawsuit against crypto influencer Hodlonaut – who publicly declared Wright a “scammer” and “fraud” in 2019.

A COPA spokesperson said the court’s decision marks a “watershed moment” for the open-source community and a “definitive win for the truth”.

“Developers can now continue their important work maintaining, iterating on, and improving the Bitcoin network without risking their personal livelihoods or fearing costly and time-consuming litigation from Craig Wright,” they said.

On social media platform X, Wright said he fully intends to appeal the decision of the court before thanking his supporters for their “unwavering encouragement and support”.

In the UK, notice for appeals typically need to be filed within 21 days of a court’s decision unless a time limit is otherwise specified by the judge.