Craig Wright will now retain 1.1 million Bitcoin, worth £40 billion. (Picture: AP; Getty)
In 2016, Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist, claimed to be the founder of the digital currency Bitcoin.
On Monday, Wright won a court case against the family of his late business partner, allowing him to keep a cache of cryptocurrency worth billions of dollars.
A Miami jury rejected claims that Dave Kleiman, Wright’s former business partner and computer forensics expert, was due half of the assets. Kleiman’s estate also claimed rights to some of the intellectual property behind early blockchain technology.
Wright will now retain 1.1 million Bitcoin, worth £40 billion as reported by the BBC. He will still pay $100 million for intellectual property infringement to W&K Info Defense Research LLC, a joint venture between the two men.
The family of Kleiman, a computer security expert who died in 2013, said that the two men had worked together to create and mine the first Bitcoin and that Wright had stolen it.
The invention of the cryptocurrency in 2008 was described in a white paper published under the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. Since 2016, Wright has claimed that he was Nakamoto, though that claim has been disputed.
Wright said that the legal ruling confirmed that he was the creator of the digital asset.
‘The jury has obviously found that I am because there would have been no award otherwise,’ said Wright. ‘This has been a remarkable good outcome and I feel completely vindicated,”
Wright was cleared on nearly all issues brought by the family of Kleiman.
The Satoshi Nakamoto mystery
The South Florida civil suit drew so much attention due to the mystery surrounding the founding of Bitcoin.
In 2008, in the wake of the US financial crisis, someone called Satoshi Nakamoto published a nine-page white paper detailing a vision for Bitcoin — a ‘peer-to-peer electronic cash system’ that would function outside the reach of governments.
In 2016, Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist, claimed to be the founder of bitcoin. Copyright: 2013 Getty Images
A few months later, Nakamoto released software that allowed users to mine for the cryptocurrency. Mining for cryptocurrencies is a computationally-intensive process by which new tokens are created and transactions of existing digital coins are verified.
In a 2016 blog post, Wright had claimed that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the person or persons who had developed the digital currency, bitcoin.
Wright’s claim has been disputed by the crypto community, partly because he hasn’t moved any of the early bitcoin presumed to have been mined by Satoshi.
In 2011, Nakamoto is said to have mysteriously exited the crypto scene after emailing a fellow developer to say that he had ‘moved on to other things’. Before he left, Nakamoto is believed to have mined as many as 1.1 million Bitcoin.
Wright had previously said that his win would prove that he was indeed Nakamoto. if successful, he had also promised to donate much of his bitcoin fortune to charity.