Craig Wright Is Not Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto, Judge Declares

The allegations of forgery are founded on a series of reports compiled by an expert in forensic document analysis nominated by COPA, who analyzed the various materials on which Wright’s claim depends. The reports identified hundreds of alleged instances of forgery and tampering of various flavors, and were largely corroborated by two experts nominated by Wright. In closing, Hough emphasized Wright’s decision not to call his own experts for questioning, meaning their unflattering testimony must be taken at face value by the court.

Hough also pointed to previously unpublished communications between Satoshi and their early collaborators, which COPA says demonstrate clear discrepancies in Wright’s story. Wright has claimed that Bitcoin was profoundly influenced by the work of cryptographer Wei Dai; COPA says the emails show Satoshi became aware of Dai after having already drafted the Bitcoin white paper. Wright has long said that Bitcoin should not be described as a “cryptocurrency;” COPA says the emails show Satoshi embraced the term. Wright’s account is “so riddled with dishonest features it can confidently be dismissed as a fiction,” Hough claimed.

Throughout his stint in the witness box, Wright had made repeated allegations about the independence and objectivity of COPA’s forensic expert. In his closing arguments, Wright’s counsel, Lord Anthony Grabiner, argued that the judge should disregard all of the evidence submitted by COPA’s forensic document analysis expert, citing the “unorthodox” way their reports had been produced. COPA’s legal representatives had assisted in the composition of the reports in a highly unusual fashion, Grabiner claimed, thus the expert had become “part of the team” and their independence compromised.

In its closing rebuttal, COPA rejected the idea that its expert was compromised. The attack on the expert’s credibility, claimed Hough, was a clear example of “playing the man when you manifestly cannot play the ball.”

Grabiner also turned to a series of private meetings in 2016 in which Wright was able to convince Gavin Andresen, an early contributor to Bitcoin’s underlying software, and Jon Matonis, former director of the Bitcoin Foundation, that he possessed the private credentials associated with known Satoshi transactions. Although Andresen has since walked back his support for Wright’s claims in a blog post, Grabiner called these so-called signing sessions “a key part of the case for Dr. Wright.” COPA counters that the signing sessions were “fixed or in some devious way subverted by Dr. Wright,” said Grabiner. “But the expert evidence focuses exclusively and speculatively on the theoretical possibility of the signing sessions being subverted.”

Grabiner reserved his final words to argue against the specific relief requested by COPA, beyond the findings that will be documented in the judgment. He wielded various legal precedents and technicalities to object to a formal declaration that Wright is not the author of the Bitcoin white paper, a matter he described as “purely academic.” Grabiner objected to an injunction restraining Wright from claiming he is Satoshi, meanwhile, on the basis that Wright should be free to “tell anyone who he believes he is,” irrespective of whether the court agrees with him.

Now begins a nervous wait for Wright, for whom there is more at stake than his reputation and ability to carry forward his other litigation. In its closing filing, COPA petitioned for the matter of forgery to be referred to the UK criminal courts. “In putting forward his dishonest claim to be Satoshi and backing it up with a huge number of forged documents, Wright has committed fraud upon the court,” Hough told the judge. If found guilty, Wright could face a fine, imprisonment, or both.

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