In brief

  • Craig Wright claims he's the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin. He's being sued for billions in Bitcoin.
  • Wright now says he has access to those funds. But he can't provide them because of, among other reasons, "attorney-client privilege."
  • The judge wasn't convinced.

In a court order filed yesterday, a US judge threw out Craig Wright’s claims that he couldn’t prove he has access to 1.1 million Bitcoin he allegedly mined due to “attorney-client privilege.”

Wright is an Australian computer scientist who's long claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin. But, according to Wright's own mythology, if he were, he’d have access to files necessary to unlock the “Tulip Trust,” a collection of 1 million Bitcoin that Nakomoto supposedly mined in his early days.

He has had trouble producing these documents so far in a court case filed against him by the brother of Bitcoin developer and former business partner, the late Dave Kleiman. If Wright has access to those funds, the Kleiman estate has argued that Wright owes them half of all his Bitcoin. 

Wright's latest argument is that a lawyer holds the documents, and therefore his “communications are privileged.” His wife had also dealt with the lawyer, so he claimed he had spousal privilege. And Wright claimed these documents were connected to 17 companies, another reason for not spilling the beans.

“I am lawyer”

But here's the kicker: The 17 companies that Wright claims his “privileged” documents are connected to are all in liquidation. And the lawyer that Wright says is in possession of the documents is one Denis Bosire Mayaka, who’s written the following: “I am lawyer [sic] and obtained my bachelor of law degree in 2007 from Moi University in Kenya.” Wright’s only evidence for this is a printout of Mayaka’s LinkedIn profile.

Judge Bruce Reinhart, less than impressed, threw out Wright’s argument. “I decline to rely on this kind of document, which could easily have been generated by anyone with word processing software and a pen,” he said. 

He also pointed out that “Dr. Wright has produced forged documents in this litigation,” meaning he’s less likely to accept this fresh evidence. The judge ordered Wright to produce answers on the documents in question by Thursday, March 12.

Still, if Wright can produce the documents, and the judge rules in favor of the Kleiman estate, he'd have to give half of the money up, anyway.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.