Australian entrepreneur and computer scientist Craig Wright has been sued by Dave Kleinman’s estate for allegedly stealing between 550 thousand and 1 million bitcoins.
Craig Wright and Dave Kleiman
In 2015, the Australian computer scientist and businessman, Craig Wright, publicly announced that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the famous creator of the Bitcoin decentralized cryptocurrency. Many people from the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency community were skeptical about Wright’s claims and demanded further proof.
Wright and Kleiman created a cybersecurity company, W&K Info Defense Research LLC, back in 2011. They also, allegedly, worked together before that on developing Bitcoin and mining it. It’s these mined bitcoins that lie at the heart of the lawsuit.
Kleiman died in 2013 due to complications from a motorcycle accident back in 1995. His family believes that Wright has stolen between 550,000 to 1 million bitcoins, which would now be worth over $10 billion for the latter amount.
The $10 Billion Lawsuit
The estate of Dave Kleiman filed a lawsuit on February 14th against Craig Wright. Attorneys for the estate say that they have a number of pieces of evidence, such as corporate documents, that list Kleiman as the registered agent for the Bitcoin venture. Wright maintains that Kleiman had signed away his shares.
One email exchange that the Kleiman estate highlights is this question from Ira Kleiman, Dave’s brother, to Wright:
[Dave] mentioned that you had 1 million Bitcoins in the trust and since you said he has 300,000 as his part. I was figuring the other 700,000 is yours. Is that correct?
To which, Wright supposedly replied:
Around that. Minus what was needed for the company’s use.
— Dr Craig S Wright (@ProfFaustus) February 26, 2018
Wright has tweeted that the reason for the lawsuit is a simple one: greed. It is interesting that the lawsuit makes no claim as to either man’s supposed role in the creation of the original cryptocurrency. The legal complaint states:
It is unclear whether Craig, Dave, and / or both created Bitcoin. For reasons not yet completely clear, they chose to keep their involvement in Bitcoin hidden from most of their family and friends. It is undeniable, however, that Craig and Dave were involved in Bitcoin from its inception and that they both accumulated a vast wealth of bitcoins from 2009 through 2013.
A New Twist
However, this Bitcoin lawsuit gets even more interesting. WizSec has done some research and is reporting that neither Craig Wright or Dave Kleiman actually own any of the bitcoins being sued over.
WizSec has looked at many of the addresses cited in the complaint to verify ownership. One account that held 250,000 bitcoins actually belongs to Jed McCaleb, the founder of MtGox. Another account worth 335,000 bitcoins is an internal MtGox address that descends directly from a proof-of-solvency transaction by Mark Karpeles back in 2011.
Overall, this is a fascinating lawsuit that may be over nothing at all. A summons was issued by the United States District Court on February 15th for Craig Wright. However, it is not known whether he will come to the US to stand trial. Wright currently lives in London.
What do you think about this Bitcoin lawsuit? Is it much ado over nothing or is over $10 billion in play? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Twitter/@ProfFaustus and Pexels.