A man who has insisted that he is the man behind the pseudonymous identity of bitoshi inventor Satoshi Nakamoto has been ordered to pay half his cryptocurrency gift to a man believed to be his former colleague.
A U.S. District Court on Tuesday ruled that Australian computer engineer Craig Wright must pay the estate of David Kleiman, who Wright suggested was his partner before Kleiman died in 201
Public suspicion that Wright was the true Nakamoto started in 2015 when the Australian tax office investigated Wright's bitcoin connections, and federal police raided his home in Sydney. Wright embraced the rumors, claiming he was actually Nakamoto in 2016, but his nonsensical claims were challenged by many cryptocurrency experts. At the time, he suggested he had the help of a deceased computer forensic specialist who had been linked to bitcoin origin – Kleiman.
This disclosure inspired Kleiman's brother to start a legal battle to uncover the "buried treasure " of his bitcoin. In 2018 Kleimans sued Wright claiming that Wright mined bitcoin with Kleiman, and Wright has tried to keep the cryptocurrency mined by both – which claim amounts to about a million bitcoins – depriving Kleimans property of half that it should own.
The court decision this week appears to be a victory for Kleiman's property, but Wright insists that he cannot access bitcoin. According to the Guardian, Wright explained to the court that in 2011 he had been preoccupied with bitcoin's growing connection to illegal activity, so he encrypted his bitcoin and put it into a blind trust, then had the encrypted key split into several slices, which were given to Kleiman who spread them to other people. Wright claims he cannot decrypt the bitcoin file until he receives a key that will be provided by a tied courier in early 2020.
The Guardian reports that Judge Bruce Reinhart said during his verdict that Wright's story was "unthinkable" and His statements were inconsistent.
"During his testimony, Dr. Wright's behavior did not impress me as someone who told the truth," Reinhart said, according to The Guardian. "When it was favorable to him, Dr. Wright seemed to have an excellent memory and a careful attention to detail. Otherwise, Dr. Wright was belligerent and elusive. "
The judge allegedly said at the beginning of his sentence that the court would not be responsible for determining whether Wright is Nakamoto, or how much bitcoin Wright owns. So this saga is probably far from over.