Self-Proclaimed Bitcoin Creator Craig Wright Ordered to Pay $100mln by US Court
A US jury has ordered the Australian computer scientist who claims to have developed Bitcoin to pay $100 million in damages for allegedly defrauding a dead friend of intellectual property rights to the cryptocurrency. Jurors in federal court in Miami took around a week to reach Monday’s decision, after approximately three weeks of deliberation.
The jury dismissed the majority of accusations against Craig Wright, and the verdict is unlikely to settle the controversy over whether Wright is the fabled Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of peer-to-peer money. The brother of Dave Kleiman, a computer security specialist who died in 2013, said that the late Florida resident collaborated with Wright in the early years of Bitcoin to build and generate the cryptocurrency. As a consequence, the plaintiffs said that the estate was entitled to half of a hoard of up to 1.1 million Bitcoins valued at about $70 billion believed to be possessed by Satoshi.
Certain cryptocurrency investors believe Wright is a fraud, and years of litigation in Florida have done nothing to assuage doubters. Wright has repeatedly said in court and in past press interviews that he created Bitcoin. If the jury found against Wright, he would have been compelled to deliver the Satoshi inheritance. That, according to some observers, would have been the genuine litmus test.
“I have never felt more relieved in my life,” Wright remarked after the judgement. He said that he would not appeal. Additionally, he said that he feels vindicated and that the judgement establishes his status as the inventor of Bitcoin.
“Obviously, the judges deemed me to be since there would have been no compensation otherwise,” he said. “And indeed, I am.”
Devin Freedman, an attorney representing the Kleiman estate, lauded the finding as “a landmark decision in the creative and disruptive business of bitcoin and blockchain.”
“Many years ago, Craig Wright informed the Kleiman family that he and Dave Kleiman created groundbreaking Bitcoin-based intellectual property,” he said in a statement. “Despite these disclosures, Wright refused to compensate the Kleimans fairly for the wealth Dave helped produce.”
The jury held Wright responsible for conversion – the unauthorized taking of property – and awarded damages to W&K Info Defense Research LLC, the corporation through which Kleiman and Wright are alleged to have collaborated.
Freedman said in his closing statements to the jury that Wright schemed and conspired to “take from his deceased closest buddy via forgeries and falsehoods.”
Along with the Bitcoin mining that the pals conducted together, the estate claimed that Kleiman assisted Wright in developing the intellectual property underpinning early blockchain technology, which was valued at $252 billion. Wright stated that Dave Kleiman’s brother, Ira, faked his statements. He testified that his acquaintance did not assist him in launching the coin and contended that there was no evidence of their collaboration.
Wright’s attorney, Andres Rivero, described the verdict as a tremendous triumph for his client.
“The plaintiffs sought $600 billion in damages plus punitive damages,” he said in a phone interview after the ruling. “This is one of the most emphatic triumphs in American civil litigation history. They had been crushed. Their outcome is far less than any settlement offer we have ever offered to them. This is a complete defeat for the other side.”