Another court case fails to solve Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin mystery

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? The mysterious inventor of Bitcoin is a famous figure in the cryptocurrency world but his true identity is unknown.

However, British blogger Peter McCormack was sure of one thing: The answer is not Craig Wright.

For years, Wright, an Australian computer scientist, has claimed to be Satoshi, the pseudonymous author of the 2008 white paper behind Bitcoin.

Wright’s assertion that he is the inventor of digital assets — he first sought to prove himself as Satoshi in 2016, months after his name first came out — has led to a series of legal wrangling, some continuing.

Someone came to an expensive conclusion in London this week, when it was found that McCormack had caused serious damage to Wright’s reputation by repeatedly claiming he was a fraud, not a Satoshi.

But Wright, 52, was awarded a symbolic £1 after a High Court judge ruled he had provided “intentionally false evidence” to support his defamation claim.

For reasons of cost, McCormack did not offer a defense of the truth – the defendant in the case attempts to show that the allegations are largely true – with Mr Chamberlain ruling that one of the allegations presented in a YouTube video discussion was defamatory, while a series of tweets repeating Fraud allegations, she was judged to have caused serious damage to Wright’s reputation.

“Because he [Wright] File a deliberately false case and intentionally false evidence until days before the trial, and he will recover only symbolic damages,” the judge wrote.

McCormack’s defense turned out to be a much narrower rule, which was that the video and tweets did not cause serious damage to Wright’s reputation. Wright claimed that his reputation was seriously damaged by the tweets because he was disqualified from 10 conferences, meaning that the academic papers that were due to be presented at those events were not published.

McCormack provided evidence from conference organizers who challenged Wright’s claims. These allegations were then dropped from Wright’s case at trial in May.

The judge was scathing. He said, “Dr Wright’s original case for grievous harm, and the evidence supporting it, both of which were kept until days before the trial, was intentionally wrong.”

Wright, who lives in Surrey and is chief scientist at blockchain technology company nChain, said he brought the case “not for financial reward, but for principle and to make others think twice before trying to challenge my reputation.”

Legal cases continue to pile up. Wright has other Supreme Court cases pending. He has filed a defamation case against Norwegian Twitter user Marcus Granath, who also accused the Australian of fraud. Granath recently failed to try to get rid of the case.

Wright is also suing two cryptocurrency exchanges in a case that argues that a digital asset called Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV), which he supports, is the true descendant of the white paper.

The Crypto Open Patent Alliance (Copa), a non-profit organization that supports cryptocurrency, is seeking permission from the Supreme Court that Wright is not the author of the white paper. Her case alleges that Wright falsified evidence presented to support his assertion that he was Satoshi. Wright, who denies Cuba’s allegations, failed in an attempt to have the case dismissed last year.

There was more legal back and forth before that. In 2020, Wright lost an attempt to sue Roger Ver, one of the early Bitcoin supporters, for accusing Wright of fraud on YouTube after a judge ruled that the appropriate jurisdiction for the suit would be the United States. One year later, Wright won a copyright infringement lawsuit against the anonymous operator and publisher of bitcoin.org for publishing the white paper. Wright won by default after the bitcoin.org publisher, who uses the Cobra pseudonym, refused to speak in their defence.

In the US, Wright won a lawsuit in December that prevented him from paying billions of dollars in bitcoin to the family of David Kleiman, a former business partner. Together with Wright, the Kleiman family claimed that he was one of the founders of Bitcoin, and they therefore owed half of the 1.1 million Bitcoin that Satoshi “mined.”

The case has been closely watched in the expectation that if Wright loses, he will have to move those bitcoins – seen as a test of the sword in stone that will prove Satoshi’s true identity. These coins are now worth $25 billion (£21 billion) at the current price of $23,000 and reside on the Bitcoin blockchain, a decentralized ledger that records all Bitcoin transactions.

Satoshi published the body of the cryptocurrency – Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System – on October 31, 2008 and communicated via email with the coin’s early followers before it disappeared in 2011.

Carol Alexander, a professor of finance at the University of Sussex Business School, says Wright could prove himself a Satoshi by using so-called private keys — a secure code made up of a hexadecimal string of numbers and letters — that would unlock access to bitcoins.

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“The only way Wright can prove he is SN would be to make a transaction with some of the original bitcoin,” she said.

Wright insists he won’t, saying that private keys do not prove ownership or identity. There are a few other candidates for Satoshi. In 2014, a Japanese-American man, Dorian S Nakamoto, was named by Newsweek as the creator of bitcoin and immediately denied any association with the digital currency. The most enlightened speculation has centered on Nick Szabo, the American computer scientist who designed BitGold, which is seen as a conceptual introduction to Bitcoin. But he also denied allegations that he might be Satoshi.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chamberlain left an open question that remained unanswered. “The identity of Satoshi is not among the issues I should identify,” he said.

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