Legal

Craig Wright tells federal court he is unable to access $10 billion bitcoin fortune

June 29, 2019, 8:51AM EDT

Craig Wright, the leading proponent of Bitcoin SV who says he is the creator of Bitcoin, claimed in Florida federal court on Friday that he is unable to easily access the $10 billion bitcoin fortune or even produce the addresses at which the coins are stored.

Wright is in court to defend himself against the estate of his former business partner Dave Kleiman, which claims he stole bitcoin belonging to Kleiman. Wright claimed that Kleiman was responsible for hiding the bitcoin jointly owned by the two men in order to protect Wright's identity as the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. According to Wright, "I brought in Dave because he was a friend and he knew who I was and he was a forensic expert, and I wanted to wipe everything I had to do with Bitcoin from the public record."

Kleiman's estate is highly motivated to retrieve the bitcoin, while Wright claims that his family has "enough now" and the missing bitcoin would be "too much money." The estate claims that Wright forged a significant number of documents following Kleiman's death in 2013 in order to transfer to himself all of the jointly owned bitcoin.

Wright reportedly became emotional in the courtroom, which was cleared of any electronic devices, and lamented that his purported monetary creation was used for illicit activities on Silk Road and elsewhere. As a result, Wright says he stopped mining and working on Bitcoin in 2010.

If Wright and Kleiman's estate really do own the bitcoin they're claiming, both have much at stake in the proceedings, as the value of bitcoin owned by the elusive creator of the cryptocurrency is now worth well over $10 billion. And with Wright currently leading Bitcoin SV, valued at nearly $4 billion, he can ill afford to have his reputation sullied at trial.

During the hearing, Wright turned combative on a number of occasions, throwing a document and using profane language. This caused the judge to warn Wright that he would be "in handcuffs" if he did not get himself under control. 

The hearing concluded with the matter far from settled. It will reportedly be continued later this summer.

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