In brief

  • A judge has ordered Craig Wright to produce documents by April 17.
  • The judge overruled Wright’s objections, which were based on attorney-client privilege. 
  • Wright claims he's the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin, and is being sued for billions in Bitcoin.

A US district court judge has ordered self-styled Bitcoin inventor Craig Wright to produce documents that support his claims by April 17. On Monday, the judge overruled Wright’s objection, which was based on attorney-client privilege. 

The order is the latest development in Kleiman vs. Wright, a long running court action against the Australian computer scientist who has long claimed to be mysterious Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. 

The estate of Dave Kleiman is suing Craig Wright for their bitcoin
Dave Kleiman passed away in 2013. His estate believe he was part of the team behind "Satoshi Nakamoto." Image: DaveKleiman.com

The lawsuit against Wright was first launched in February 2018, by the brother of his former business partner, the late Dave Kleiman. His estate argues that Wright owes them half of all his Bitcoin (worth approximately $5 billion). The case hinges on Wright’s access to files needed to unlock the “Tulip Trust,” a trove of 1 million Bitcoin that Nakomoto supposedly mined in his early days.

A history of providing forged materials

Wright has argued that he can't hand over the files because of—among other reasons—“attorney-client privilege.” But, last month, Judge Bruce Reihart threw out Wright’s argument. He said that documents submitted by Wright’s Kenyan attorney, Denis Bosire Mayaka, were “inadequately authenticated,” and he suggested that they may even have been forged. 

 

Monday’s judgement overruled Wright’s objection to the ruling. Wright had argued that there was no evidence to demonstrate the suggestion that the lawyer’s documents were forged, and that previously submitting documents found to be forgeries should not prejudice the decision in this matter.

Judge Beth Bloom, in US District Court of the Southern District of Florida, said that the court order which threw out Wright’s protestation of “attorney-client privilege “was not contrary to law or clearly erroneous,” as he had claimed. As a result, the order to produce the files was neither illegal nor erroneous.

 

Based on the evidence produced, she said that Judge Reihart had correctly concluded that the defendant did not establish an attorney-client relationship. 

She also said that the court was “puzzled” by Wright’s argument that Judge Reinhart “must blindly accept items produced by [the] Defendant,” and that, in its evaluation, it could not rely on past experiences with Wright—including his history of providing forged materials and giving perjured testimony.

The legal case is not the only one Wright is involved in. Last year, Wright filed lawsuits against Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, Blockstream CEO Adam Back, Bitcoin.com founder Roger Ver, podcaster Peter McCormack and pseudonymous Twitter individual “Hodlonaut.” 

But in January, he scrapped his lawsuit against Back, covering $8,400 in legal fees. Wright had claimed that Back libelled him by calling him a fraud. Wright maintains he is Satoshi, although, if he wasn't, that would get him out of this lawsuit.