Bitcoin trial: Defendant wins dispute over $50B in Bitcoin

Dec 6, 2021, 10:37 AM | Updated: Dec 8, 2021, 8:26 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Wright, a computer scientist who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin, prevailed in a civil trial verdict Monday against the family of a deceased business partner that claimed it was owed half of a cryptocurrency fortune worth tens of billions.

A Florida jury found that Wright did not owe half of 1.1 million Bitcoin to the family of David Kleiman. The jury did award $100 million in intellectual property rights to a joint venture between the two men, a fraction of what Kleiman’s lawyers were asking for at trial.

“This was a tremendous victory for our side,” said Andres Rivero of Rivero Mestre LLP, the lead lawyer representing Wright.

David Kleiman died in April 2013 at the age of 46. Led by his brother Ira Kleiman, his family has claimed David Kleiman and Wright were close friends and co-created Bitcoin through a partnership.

At the center of the trial were 1.1 million Bitcoin, worth approximately $50 billion based on Monday’s prices. These were among the first Bitcoin to be created through mining and could only be owned by a person or entity involved with the digital currency from its beginning — such as Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.

Now the cryptocurrency community will be looking to see if Wright follows through on his promise to prove he is the owner of the Bitcoin. Doing so would lend credence to Wright’s claim, first made in 2016, that he is Nakamoto.

The case tried in federal court in Miami was highly technical, with the jury listening to explanations of the intricate workings of cryptocurrencies as well as the murky origins of how Bitcoin came to be. Jurors took a full week to deliberate, repeatedly asking questions of lawyers on both sides as well as the judge on how cryptocurrencies work as well as the business relationship between the two men. At one point the jurors signaled to the judge that they were deadlocked.

Bitcoin’s origins have always been a bit of a mystery, which is why this trial has drawn so much attention from outsiders. In October 2008 during the height of the financial crisis, a person or group of people going by the name “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper laying out a framework for a digital currency that would not be tied to any legal or sovereign authority. Mining for the currency, which involves computers solving mathematical equations, began a few months later.

The name Nakamoto, roughly translated from Japanese to mean “at the center of,” was never considered to be the real name of Bitcoin’s creator.

Wright’s claim that he is Nakamoto has been met with skepticism from a sizeable portion of the cryptocurrency community. Due to its structure, all transactions of Bitcoin are public and the 1.1 million Bitcoin in question have remained untouched since their creation. Members of the Bitcoin community have regularly called for Wright to move just a fraction of the coins into a separate account to prove ownership and show that he truly is as wealthy as he claims.

During the trial, both Wright and other cryptocurrency experts testified under oath that Wright owns the Bitcoin in question. Wright said he would prove his ownership if he were to win at trial.

The lawyers for W&K Information Defense Research LLC, the joint venture between the two men, said they were “gratified” that the jury awarded the $100 million in intellectual property rights to the company, which developed software that set the groundwork for early blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies.

“Wright refused to give the Kleimans their fair share of what (David Kleinman) helped create and instead took those assets for himself,” said Vel Freedman and Kyle Roche of Roche Freedman LLP and Andrew Brenner, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, in a joint statement.

Wright’s lawyers have said repeatedly that David Kleiman and Wright were friends and collaborated on work together, but their partnership had nothing to do with Bitcoin’s creation or early operation.

Wright has said he plans to donate much of the Bitcoin fortune to charity if he were to win at trial. In an interview, Wright’s lawyer Rivero reconfirmed Wright’s plans to donate much of his Bitcoin fortune.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts a reception for the winners of the Points of Light Awa...
Associated Press

UK meets energy firms but no help yet for hard-hit consumers

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers held inconclusive talks Thursday with energy companies amid mounting pressure to help residents cope with soaring gas and electricity prices. Johnson, who is in his final weeks as prime minister, joined Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng at the meeting with […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Taliban say bombing kills prominent Afghan cleric in Kabul

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A bombing killed a prominent Taliban cleric on Thursday at his religious center in the Afghan capital of Kabul, authorities said, the latest attack to strike the country in the year since the former insurgents seized power. Officials identified the cleric as Rahimullah Haqqani, a name that signifies he graduated from Darul […]
7 hours ago
FILE - A screen displays market data at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 10...
Associated Press

Growth in corporate profits may not be as strong as it seems

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street’s big gains this summer have been spread widely across industries. The profit growth helping to underpin those gains? Not so much. Roughly 90% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their second quarter results, and their earnings per share are nearly 8% higher from year-ago levels in […]
7 hours ago
Resorts casino president Mark Giannantonio speaks at a press conference at his casino in Atlantic C...
Associated Press

New leader takes helm at Atlantic City casino trade group

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos named a veteran casino executive as its new president on Thursday. Mark Giannantonio has more than 35 years experience in the casino industry, and has been president and CEO of Resorts casino since 2012. Before that, he was president and CEO of […]
7 hours ago
This photo provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard shows migrants arrive at a port on the southeastern...
Associated Press

Greece: Dozens still missing after migrant boat sinks

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities say a search and rescue operation is ongoing for a second day for dozens of migrants missing after the boat they were on sank in rough seas off a southeastern Greek island. A Greek navy vessel and three nearby merchant ships were still searching Thursday for between around 25 […]
7 hours ago
Money is exchanged at a food stand while workers wear face masks inside Grand Central Market on Wed...
Associated Press

US wholesale inflation fell in July for 1st time in 2 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prices at the wholesale level fell from June to July, the first month-to-month drop in more than two years and a sign that some of the U.S. economy’s inflationary pressures cooled last month. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that the producer price index — which measures inflation before it reaches […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Bitcoin trial: Defendant wins dispute over $50B in Bitcoin