Part 2: Bitcoin's Genesis - Exploring Craig Wright's Alleged Role as Satoshi Nakamoto
Crypto Basics

Part 2: Bitcoin's Genesis - Exploring Craig Wright's Alleged Role as Satoshi Nakamoto

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Created 4mo ago, last updated 4mo ago

In part two of this series, we explore Craig Wright's ATO investigations, outing as Satoshi by Wired and Gizmodo, and how the crypto world reacted.

Part 2: Bitcoin's Genesis - Exploring Craig Wright's Alleged Role as Satoshi Nakamoto

Table of Contents

This is part two of a three-part series exploring Craig Wright’s claims to have invented Bitcoin.
In part one we explored Wright’s childhood and career leading up to when he first started claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto - Bitcoin’s pseudonymous inventor.

In this second part, we examine the ATO investigation into Wright’s companies, his ‘outing’ as Satoshi by Wired and Gizmodo, and how the world reacted to evidence that he might have invented Bitcoin.

*Where a fact is commonly known or widely reported, we do not cite a source. On the whole, sources are only listed where facts are specific, arguable, or otherwise notable.

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Part 2.

Now that we’ve covered Wright’s early life and his career up to the point he started telling people he invented Bitcoin, it’s now time for us to examine the events leading up to his memorable ‘outing’ as Satoshi Nakamoto, starting with a how Florida-based company called W&K Ltd fits into the story.

11: Wright Takes Control of W&K

Dave Kleiman incorporated a company called W&K Info Defense Ltd back in 2011 in order to bid for Homeland Security contracts with Craig Wright. Even though the pair never won any contracts, W&K became central to Wright’s story of how he invented Bitcoin soon after Kleiman’s death.

Dave Kleiman, cybersecurity expert.

Wright originally claimed that he and Kleiman mined Bitcoin together via W&K, and that Wright controlled the Bitcoin via the Tulip Trust. He would later retract his story after Dave Kleiman’s relatives sued him for half of Satoshi’s Bitcoin in 2018.
About a week after Kleiman passed away, his colleague from Palm Beach, Carter Conrad, emailed Kleiman’s friends and colleagues about his passing away. A few months later, Conrad was mailed a formal notice saying Dave Kleiman was no longer associated with W&K Info Defense Ltd, which he had never heard of. He looked over the notice and saw it didn’t require any action from him, so he disregarded it. That notice was sent by Craig Wright.
Four months later, in October 2013, Wright submitted an affidavit to the Australian Supreme Court claiming that he owned 50% of W&K. The affidavit stated that a shareholder’s meeting was called on August 1st, 2013, which stated that Kleiman and Wright each owned 50% of the company shares. The document was purportedly signed by Kleiman himself, which is odd considering he passed away in April 2013, four months earlier.

Indeed, it was later shown that Kleiman’s signatures were forged throughout the affidavit; the signatures were copied from a computer-generated font called Otto, and bore no resemblance whatsoever to Kleiman’s real signature. While it cannot be proved that Wright forged the signatures himself, the logical inference here is that he did, as nobody else was motivated to do so.

Comparison of Kleiman’s real signature with the signature in the fraudulent contracts.

Wright revealed some Bitcoin wallets he says he and Kleiman controlled in an email sent during the same month, as well as how much Bitcoin was in those wallets: 416,475 BTC, apparently. The email included an assortment of curious phrases like “I hope this trust is not misplaced” and “I hope that you understand the trust we are placing…” as well as “all discussions are to remain confidential.”

It has since been proved that Wright didn’t control at least two of the addresses he claimed to in the aforementioned email.

Leaked email wherein Wright claims to control a series of addresses he does not control.

One of the true address owners signed a message saying “Craig Wright is a liar and a fraud” in 2019; another contains Bitcoin stolen during the infamous Mt Gox hack in 2011. As such, Wright could not have controlled the second wallet unless he also carried out the Mt Gox hack.

Screengrab of message signed with an address Wright claimed to control.

This email shed some light on how Wright came to control such a massive sum of Bitcoin. In his own words, “the addresses are in my control now as a matter of fate and other circumstances,” which seems to imply here that Wright didn’t believe he had earned the Bitcoin.

He continues, “David Reese and David Kleiman have both been essential parts of this project,” although he neglects to spell out what “this project” was, and what exactly Kleiman and Reese had to do with it.

In late March the following year (2014), W&K was officially reinstated and Kleiman was removed as the company’s registered agent by Uyen Nguyen, a woman who today directs a number of Craig Wright’s companies.

We ought to consider here why Wright would go through all this trouble to reinstate a company which had never carried out any business, produced anything, or shown any profit.

One plausible answer is that W&K served as evidence that Wright had worked with Kleiman on a secret project, and in theory that project could relate to Bitcoin. This is probably the case because Wright later used W&K as a pretense to ask Kleiman’s family and relatives to ‘preserve’ all of Kleiman’s computers and hard drives, in particular any ‘wallet.dat’ files.

12: How Wright Became Satoshi

In February 2014, nearly a year after Dave Kleiman passed away, Craig Wright reached out to Paige & Conrad, Kleiman’s old business partners in Florida.

Craig Wright speaking at a conference.

He sent them a cryptic email hinting at a “secret project” he and Kleiman had worked on together, and through which Kleiman had amassed a sum of Bitcoin “too large to email.” He asked enigmatic questions like “can I trust you?”

In this first email, Wright explicitly stated that Dave Kleiman was the mastermind behind Bitcoin. You read that right – before Craig Wright claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself, he told Paige and Conrad that Kleiman - and Kleiman alone - had invented Bitcoin.

Of course, Wright then clarified that when he said Kleiman invented Bitcoin, he really meant that he and Kleiman invented Bitcoin together.

Wright then asked Paige and Conrad to inspect Kleiman’s computers for any wallet.dat files that might contain Bitcoin. There’s no evidence that Kleiman had any wallet files on his computers, but Wright certainly believed he did. In fact, he was so desperate to find Kleiman’s Bitcoin that he begged Paige & Conrad for contact details for Dave Kleiman’s surviving relatives so he could ‘preserve’ Kleiman’s personal computers, which they handed over.
The first person Wright reached out to was Louis Kleiman, Dave Kleiman’s father. He told Louis that he and Dave Kleiman were “two of the three people behind Bitcoin.”

We should note that by this point, Wright’s story has already changed from (1) Kleiman inventing Bitcoin alone; to (2) he and Kleiman developing Bitcoin together, and now to (3) he, Kleiman, and an unnamed third party developing Bitcoin as a team. It changed several more times over the years that followed.

In 2015, he promised Paige and Conrad that Kleiman “wouldn’t be left out” of any payday, which implied that Dave Kleiman played a small, supporting role in Bitcoin’s development. And during a lawsuit in 2018, Wright finally removed Dave Kleiman from the picture entirely, when he asserted that he and Kleiman didn’t mine Bitcoin together.
Wright also asked Louis Kleiman to search Dave’s computer systems and “save a file called wallet.dat.” He explained that he didn’t seek “anything other than to give you information about your son.” How exactly Bitcoin wallet files constitute ‘information’ about Louis Kleiman’s son isn’t clear. It’s possible that Wright simply wanted to take any wallet files Klieman owned and claim he owned half of them, as they supposedly mined them together through W&K Ltd.

Owing to his advanced age, Louis Kleiman struggled to communicate with Wright, so he asked his son Ira to take over. At first, Craig and Ira appeared to have gotten along. Ira was obviously excited by the prospect of a huge windfall, and Craig seemed eager to give Ira a fair share of Dave’s estate in exchange for some cash or Bitcoin.

Ira Kleiman on his way to court during the Kleiman v Wright trial 2018.

In one of their conversations, Wright told Ira that he had “math skills and some coding, that frankly was crud,” but that “Dave could edit his way through hell and back.” Here Wright was basically saying here that he’s more of an ideas man than a coder, and that without Dave Kleiman, a working Bitcoin prototype probably wouldn’t have happened.
Satoshi, however, once told Hal Finney that he was “better with code than with words,” which is precisely the opposite of what Wright said.
Wright’s story also fails to match up with something Satoshi told Mike Hearn: “for this application, where I was parsing messages from strangers who might have extreme incentive to hack the protocol, it was necessary to make it as basic as possible so I could crawl over every line of code to convince myself it was airtight.”

Mike Hearn speaking at a conference.

The “I” here is essential: Satoshi told us that he’s better at coding than writing, and that he personally crawled over all the Bitcoin code; whereas Wright tells us that his coding is “crud” and that Dave Kleiman did all of the “crawling.”

If we take Wright at his word here, we would have to assume that he came up with the idea for Bitcoin, but that Kleiman actually put it into action. But once Kleiman passed away, Wright took on both roles for himself. This would fit a behavioral pattern Wright’s mother warned about (discussed in part 1): that Wright exaggerates his part in things, and that he takes small untruths and turns them into elaborate stories.

Given that Craig asked Ira, Paige and Conrad to look for wallet files on Kleiman’s hard drives, we ought to consider the possibility that Wright suspected Kleiman either invented Bitcoin, or that he possessed an enormous stash of Bitcoin. After all, there’s no obvious reason for him to ask them to look if he didn’t think there was any chance of finding some Bitcoin.

After Ira told Wright he couldn’t find any wallet files, the two men agreed the assets of W&K Ltd would be split equally between them. But their relationship turned sour when Ira told Wright he wanted to cash out his half immediately. Wright couldn’t afford to pay Ira, as all his money was tied up in a company called Hotwire.

Wright tried to convince Ira he shouldn’t cash out his half of the money right away because he stood to make more by letting him manage it through Hotwire. He sought to win Ira over with some hastily assembled forecasts, which showed he would triple his money if he didn’t cash out for three more years. But Ira wasn’t convinced.
In a last ditch effort, Ramona Watts - Wright’s new wife and business partner - emailed Ira saying “Craig and I have put our entire life savings into this business, as did Dave.” She probably hoped that by convincing Ira they were all in the same boat, he might do them the small favor of not cashing out millions of dollars of his brother’s money. (For reference, there’s no evidence Dave Kleiman ever invested in Hotwire).
Ira refused to play ball, and Craig turned nasty. He threatened to make all of W&K's software open source if Ira kept refusing to let him manage all the money. In any other situation, this would be a grossly disproportionate response; but as it turns out, Wright and his companies were in dire straits. He could hardly afford to keep the lights on, let alone pay Ira millions of dollars.

13: The Tax Rebate Scheme

Craig Wright was still running his dozen or so cyber-security companies during the year he was trying to convince Ira Kleiman that he and Ira’s brother Dave had invented Bitcoin.

Dave Kleiman and Craig Wright.

On the surface, Wright looked like a successful businessman, but many of his business dealings weren’t above board. In fact, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) started investigating his companies around the time Dave Kleiman died. Its investigation would reveal that Hotwire sat at the center of an illegal tax-rebate scheme.
What Hotwire supposedly did as a company isn’t easy to describe. Its roadmap says that “people need to develop wisdom,” and that, through the company’s understanding of certain “trends and forces,” the firm could prepare its customers for “what’s to come” (without explaining what exactly ‘is’ coming). Hotwire’s “vision” was to use this roadmap for “winning together with our community,” which would foster “trust and assurance,” and to help the world “get ready for tomorrow today.”

Given these vague phrases, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone could have guessed that Hotwire sold e-learning software, or that it planned to build a Bitcoin bank.

It’s also possible that Hotwire didn’t really do much of anything, and Wright only launched it to bolster his professional credentials. Equally, the company might have purposely kept its mission vague to confuse regulators and government agencies, such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). As you’ll see, the latter option turned out to be mostly accurate.

Hotwire’s representatives told the ATO that it had spent significant money on research and development, and was therefore entitled to claim a percentage of that money back as a cash rebate from the Australian government.

If they really had spent the money, they would have been entitled to a rebate. However, Hotwire couldn’t prove it had ever spent any money on R&D, or that it had ever possessed the money to spend in the first place. Here’s a more detailed look of how the scheme worked.

Hotwire told the ATO it had injected $30 million in Bitcoin into the company, of which $29 million went to “The Wright Family Trust,” (a.k.a. into Craig Wright’s pocket), while $1 million funded Hotwire’s day-to-day operations. This ‘cash injection’ (which was really a Bitcoin injection) was designed to let Hotwire claim a general sales tax (GST) rebate of $3.1 million and an R&D rebate of $9.6 million, in cash.

What Hotwire did, in the simplest terms, is shift the ownership rights of software Wright already owned between Hotwire and another company Wright owned (at no cost to Wright himself) and then pretended to send itself $30 million in Bitcoin in order to siphon off $12.7 million from the taxpayer’s funds via tax rebates.

Not only was the software purchase fake, but Wright didn’t even send himself the money. When Hotwire submitted its rebate claims, the ATO flagged it because the company hadn’t provided any evidence the Bitcoin transaction had ever taken place.

When he was asked to show this transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain, Wright tried to weasel his way out by saying that rather than transferring the Bitcoin directly, he had transferred Hotwire an equitable share in a trust containing 1.1 million Bitcoin. Wright claimed that he and Dave Kleiman mined this Bitcoin together through W&K, the company Kleiman had actually set up to pitch Homeland Security for freelance contracts.

For clarity, this is like someone asking you for a ten-dollar loan, and rather than just paying you back ten dollars like a normal person, they write up a contract giving you a ten-dollar share of a trust in the Cayman Islands instead.

Wright’s explanation to the ATO raised several problems, the first of which was: if Hotwire never actually received the Bitcoin, how could it have spent it on research and development? To put it another way, how could Hotwire have spent an equitable share in a Cayman Island trust on research and development? Logic dictates here that it probably didn’t.

Wright said he had bought software from W&K (Kleiman’s company), as well as Siemens and Al Bakara. He even provided proof of purchase, but the ATO weren’t convinced, and they blocked Hotwire’s cash rebate. A few days later, the company folded.
Administrators were called in, and they found that Hotiwre “did not have a commercialized product that generated an income stream to meet its day-to-day trading costs.” In other words, Craig Wright’s company did absolutely nothing.
The administrators’ report indicated Hotwire had claimed more than $12 million in refunds in its short history, comprising $9.6 million in R&D tax incentive claims and $3.1 million in GST refunds. The administrators cited the ATO’s refusal to pay out a cash rebate as the main reason the company failed.

Extract from administrator report showing Hotwire was completely dependent on tax rebates.

Wright, however, told a different story. He claimed that he had lost millions when the Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange was hacked in 2014, and Hotwire had been wiped out in the process.

Extract from administrator documents wherein Wright claims Hotwire’s demise stemmed from Mt Gox’s collapse.

Unfortunately for Wright, there’s clear evidence this isn’t true. He made an official claim against Mt Gox for the Bitcoin he lost from the hack. The total he claimed to have lost was worth just $8,000: an amount so small it simply couldn’t have sunk Hotwire.

Claim for reimbursement of $8,000 of lost funds from Mt Gox

14. The Tulip Trust

The Tulip Trust is the keystone to Wright’s claim that he’s Satoshi Nakamoto, as it’s where he says he stored the Bitcoin he and Kleiman mined back in 2010 and 2011.

The Trust’s existence is heavily disputed. Were it conclusively proven that the Trust didn’t contain any Bitcoin, any remaining support for Wright and his claims would likely disintegrate. Simply because if Craig Wright doesn’t have Satoshi’s Bitcoin, then he’s probably not Satoshi.

The first time Wright mentioned the Tulip Trust on record (as far as we know) was during a meeting with the ATO about Hotwire, his flailing company. Wright’s argument that Hotwire’s tax rebates were in fact above board centers around the Tulip Trust, as discussed in the previous section.

Wright says he lost access to the trust and its private Bitcoin keys when Dave Kleiman died, and that these missing keys would be delivered to him in January 2020 via ‘bonded courier.’

On several occasions Wright has tried to convince judges and juries of the Trust’s existence, and that it contains a million Bitcoin, but to little avail. Judge Bruce E. Reinhart once remarked of the trust: “dead men tell no tales, but they (perhaps) send bonded couriers.”
There are however three pieces of hard evidence relating to the Tulip Trust’s existence which could shed some light on whether it exists. These include (1) a receipt showing the date Wright bought the trust; (2) a deed of trust agreement, purportedly between Wright and Dave Kleiman; and (3) a draft legal agreement between Wright and Dave Kleiman which references the trust.

(1) A receipt showing when Wright bought the Tulip Trust emerged during a lawsuit brought by Ira Kleiman against Wright in 2018.

Tulip Trust proof of purchase document.

It was a shelf-company - or pre-incorporated company without any business activity - which anyone could have bought. Wright bought it on October 17th, 2014, for $3,650.

In order for Wright’s story to be true, he and Dave Kleiman must have owned and operated the trust before Kleiman died in April 2013, else the story doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But it’s this point that Wright simply cannot prove.

The receipt’s date is obviously the determining factor here: Oct. 17, 2014, was more than a year after Kleiman passed away and five years after Bitcoin launched. That fact alone represents a glaring hole in Wright’s narrative, and one which he hasn’t yet explained.

You could argue that Wright moved the Bitcoin into the Trust on this date, and that he stored it elsewhere before then, but that’s not what Wright says happened. He explicitly says that he and Kleiman stored their Bitcoin in the Tulip Trust. But that cannot be true because he bought the Trust after Klieman died.

One might argue that this invoice relates to a different Tulip Trust, and that the Bitcoin was stored in another trust by the same name. But for that to be true, Wright would need to have found a pre-incorporated shelf company with the same name as one he already owned, and in the same country no less. The chances of this being the case are close to zero.

As yet, Wright hasn’t reconciled his story with these facts, and every government agency, judge and magistrate who has looked for the Tulip Trust hasn’t found any proof it existed prior to October 2014.

“The totality of the evidence in the record does not substantiate that the Tulip Trust exists,” said judge Reinhart after hearing evidence from Wright’s lawyers during a lawsuit. “Combining these facts with Dr. Wright’s demeanor during his testimony, I find that Dr. Wright’s testimony that this trust exists was intentionally false.”
During that same lawsuit, Wright tried to claim that someone else had doctored the trust documents and tricked him into submitting them. Judge Reinhart did not accept this excuse.
“While it is true that there was no direct evidence that Dr. Wright was responsible for alterations or falsification of documents,” the Judge Reinhart said, “there is no evidence before the Court that anyone else had a motive to falsify them. As such, there is a strong, and unrebutted, circumstantial inference that Dr. Wright wilfully created the fraudulent documents.”

So while the aforementioned receipt hasn’t helped his case, Wright argues (2) a Deed of Trust dated October 2012, when Kleiman was in the hospital, vindicates him.

(2) The deed of trust, or “Declairation [sic] of trust” as it’s written in the original document, shows that an agreement was made between Wright’s company and “Tulip Trading Ltd (IBC 093344)” on Oct. 23, 2012.

Extract from the Deed of Trust.

Were this document genuine, it would prove that Wright had access to a Trust called ‘Tulip’ a year after Satoshi disappeared, and before October 2014, when another document shows he bought it. When this document was presented in court, however, it was shown to have been forged.

Computer forensics experts proved the font used throughout the document was created and copyrighted in 2015, three years after it was supposedly written. Wright was strongly reprimanded for submitting it as evidence in a court of law.

Screen capture from court documents showing the date the font used in the deed of trust was created after 2015.

“There was substantial credible evidence that documents produced by Dr. Wright to support his position in this litigation are fraudulent. There was credible and compelling evidence that documents had been altered. Other documents are contradicted by Dr. Wright’s testimony or declaration,” said the Judge Reinhart.

By the end of the lawsuit, Judge Reinhart had found Wright to be a thoroughly untrustworthy witness. “Dr. Wright does not strike me as someone telling the truth,” he said on August 26th, 2019. “All Craig’s testimonies have been rejected on the matter.”

The final piece of evidence that could prove Wright’s claims is (3) a draft legal contract between Wright and Kleiman dated 06/09/2011, which states Kleiman received 1.1 million Bitcoin from Wright.

The Trust agreement instructed Kleiman to set up a trust that would be “managed and held in the Seychelles” and “designated by ‘Tulips’.” In other words, Kleiman was supposed to set up a trust called “Tulips” in 2011.

There are several reasons to think this document isn’t genuine. There’s no notary seal (or equivalent proof) to prove it existed when Wright said it did. It’s therefore already useless as evidence, at least in court. Then there’s also the dozen or so grammatical and legal errors, which include sentences that drift off into nothingness: “this will be designated by ‘Tulips’ and the trading that was noted to have not been a bubble but…” [the sentence ends here].

The agreement’s final conditions are bizarre. It sets out that if Wright died, his wife Lynn wouldn’t receive any of the Bitcoin. Instead, it would all go to Ramona Watts, Wright’s second wife, whom he married in 2013—two years after this agreement was signed. Why would Wright leave nearly all of his wealth to a woman he wasn’t married to and leave his current wife, Lynn, close to bankruptcy? Could it be that the document was created after Wright married Ramona, and he didn’t want to risk leaving a fortune to his ex-wife?

And finally, the document undervalued the 1.1 million Bitcoin by a huge margin. It says the Bitcoin should be valued at $100,000 for “tax purposes,” even though it was really worth about $30 million at the time.  Also, no record of the transaction was to be filed in the US or Australia.

As you can see, there’s little reason to believe that the Tulip Trust existed when Wright said it did. As such, it probably doesn’t contain any of the Bitcoin Satoshi mined from 2009-2011.

Because Bitcoin operates using a public blockchain, he could in theory point to any Bitcoin wallet address and say “I own that.” And unless the owner comes out of the woodwork and says “no you don’t,” then he can get away with it. And given that there’s no easy way to find the true owner of every Bitcoin wallet - and wallet owners aren’t obligated to make their identities known - there’s no simple way to disprove Wright’s claims.

Unless of course one of the wallet owners hears about Wright claiming he owns a of wallets they own and then make themselves known to the court, which, funnily enough, actually happened once.

Shortly after Wright swore under oath that he owned 145 wallets via the Tulip Trust, the true owner of one of the wallets posted a message using that wallet’s private key, saying “Craig Steven Wright is a liar and a fraud. He doesn't have the keys used to sign this message.”

Several of the other wallet addresses supposedly in the Tulip Trust were also proven not to be in Wright’s control by WizSec, a security firm. Its analysis showed several of the wallets were owned and operated by cryptocurrency exchanges, and one even belonged to the group who hacked Mt. Gox, an early Bitcoin exchange.

Just like the judges and magistrates who dealt with Wright after them, the ATO couldn’t find any evidence of the Tulip Trust either.

15: The ATO Brings Down the Hammer

The ATO finished its investigation into Hotwire in June 2015. The extent of Hotwire’s fraud and deceit then became a matter of public record.

Here’s what its investigators found:

(1) There was no evidence that Craig Wright’s trust (a.k.a., the Tulip Trust) existed before 2014. “We do not accept that the Seychelles Trust existed as a matter of fact or law during the relevant tax period. Further or alternatively, we do not accept that a pool of 650,000 Bitcoin was in fact held according to the terms of the Seychelles trust,” they wrote (para 109).

(2) Neither Wright nor Hotwire bought any software from W&K, Siemens, or Al Bakara. The ATO described Wright’s proofs of purchase as “a nullity based on sham.” Wright had told them that he and Kleiman developed the software together for the US Department of Homeland Security. But when the ATO asked Homeland to confirm this, they were told that that “neither you [Wright] nor W&K were awarded any software development projects.”

(3) An astonishing “94%” of Wright’s personal income came from tax refunds, according to his personal and company accounts. This is important to keep in mind because it shows how deeply unstable Wright’s personal finances were, and how badly he needed financial help.

The ATO eventually concluded the “dominant” purpose of Wright’s companies was to earn tax rebates. “The majority of factors point toward the conclusions that you and your related entities entered into or carried out the scheme or part thereof, with the dominant purpose of getting GST benefits, and that the getting of those benefits was each scheme’s principal effect,” its report said.

Wright was required to pay the government $5,681,143.50, which included a fine of $1,893,714.50 for recklessness and overstated acquisitions.

ATO documents showing the amount Wright owed in fines.

It’s clear that Wright’s situation had gone from bad to worse, and finally to utter desperation. The ATO was shuttering his companies one-by-one and demanding he pay huge fines. He also owed his lawyers significant legal fees.

Craig Wright needed help, and fast.

16: The Bailout

Wright approached his friend and ex-colleague Stefan Matthews for help in the middle of 2015.

Stefan Matthews LinkedIn profile.

He and Matthews had worked together in the early 2000s at Centrebet’s online casino. At the time Wright reached out to him, Matthews was running a venture capital firm for Calvin Ayre, a billionaire gambling magnate.

Wright asked Matthews if he or someone he knew would buy his intellectual property (or his companies) so that he could pay the ATO’s fines. Matthews was apparently reluctant to help at first - after all, what IP could Wright have that was valuable enough to pay off his debts and fines, but that he couldn’t sell himself?

The answer Wright landed on, according to Matthews, was that he, Wright, was actually Satoshi Nakamoto - Bitcoin’s pseudonymous inventor.

Wright convinced Matthews to bail him out by promising him Bitcoin and blockchain-related intellectual property, which Matthews (or another buyer) could sell for huge profits once Bitcoin caught on. In a way, Wright was selling Matthews the right to trade off of Satoshi’s name.

Matthews knew some people who were interested in cryptocurrency and blockchain IP and agreed to put Wright in touch with them. Of these potential investors, Robert MacGregor, the CEO of nTrust, a money-transfer firm based in Canada, looked to be the most promising.

Matthews told MacGregor that Wright was almost certainly the man behind Bitcoin, and that Wright had sent him an early draft of the Bitcoin whitepaper before Satoshi released it publicly back in 2008. He also claimed Wright had offered him 50,000 Bitcoin for practically nothing a few years previously.

MacGregor was convinced, so he and Matthews then introduced Wright to Calvin Ayre, a gambling tycoon who lives and works from Antigua, a tropical island in the Caribbean. The three men convened in Vancouver and laid the groundwork for a deal that would bail Wright out.

Stefan Matthews, Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre.

After a successful meeting, Matthews, MacGregor, and Ayre agreed to buy Wright’s companies and settle his debts with the ATO for $15 million. A deal was formalized on June 29th, under which Wright’s companies would be absorbed into a new company - nCrypt, which would be a subsidiary of MacGregor’s company, nTrust. As part of the deal, Wright would develop patents related to Bitcoin and blockchain for nCrypt that his investors could sell for a profit.
Wright was to be paid $500,000 per year for five years, and would receive a $1 million payment for the rights to his “life story for subsequent publication or release,” which of course refers to the story of Wright inventing Bitcoin. It’s important to note here that prior to Wright’s ‘outing’ as Satoshi, he had been paid a significant sum of money for being outed.

Part of the bailout contract between Wright, Macgregor, Ayre and Matthews.

MacGregor’s associates set about sourcing someone to ghostwrite the story right away. They found and contacted Andrew O’Hagan, who agreed to shadow Wright and his family for a year from this point onwards. His experiences were documented in the London Review of Books in a piece called The Satoshi Affair.

Macgregor and Matthews’s plan was to move Wright to London and set him up with an office where he could carry out research and development with help from around thirty staff. They would help Wright develop his inventions and patent applications.

Once there was a sizable bundle of patents to sell, Wright would be unmasked as Satoshi Nakamoto, and MacGregor and Matthews would sell all the IP to Google or some other company. MacGregor said he had already spoken with Swiss banks, Google and Uber. “The plan was to package it all up and sell it,” he said. "The plan was never to operate it.”

It’s clear that revealing Wright as Satoshi was the ‘cornerstone’ of Matthews and MacGregor’s plans. After all, if Wright wasn’t Satoshi, they would be paying $15 million for a bunch of patents and IP that probably wasn’t worth much more than the paper it was written on.
Not one week after Matthews, MacGregor and Ayre bailed him out, Wright’s lawyers were contacted by the ATO about a new development in their investigation into Wright’s companies. The agency had discovered that a tranche of emails Wright had given them as evidence was forged.

The emails appeared to show Wright and his representatives purchasing software and various other goods and services, which would prove Hotwire and Wright were actually entitled to an R&D tax rebate, were they genuine.

Except they weren’t genuine - someone (probably Wright) had changed their contents. So when the ATO asked the emails’ recipients for their copies of the emails, they discovered the true content was considerably different to what Wright had sent them.

“You can see the differences between the ATO’s records and the records in your submission,” Wright’s lawyers said in an email to his wife Ramona. “The differences are intended to support the position Craig wanted to advance. In each case, the “supportive” wording does not appear on the ATO version of the emails.”

A letter from Wright’s lawyers explaining the ATO’s evidence of fraud.

The same lawyers wrote in a separate letter to Ramona, “information has been provided to our firm which raises serious questions about the integrity of documents provided by Dr Craig Wright, both to our office and to the Australian Tax Office. We believe this information to be credible.”

They went on to say they didn’t feel they could represent Wright, Ramona, or their companies any longer.

A letter Wright’s lawyers sent his wife Ramona ceasing ties with his company DeMorgan.

“This is extremely serious,” they wrote. “I understand Heydon has been in touch regarding obtaining future representation for Craig to assist him with these matters. You will understand why I and Clayton Utz can no longer act. I urge the company to seek appropriate advice and Craig to seek separate advice in relation to these allegations by the ATO.”

The lawyers were aware of Wright’s bailout, and felt it only fair that Wright inform Matthews and MacGregor about the ATO’s case against him. “I also believe that this information should be provided to Stefan Matthews and Rob MacGregor as a matter of urgency,” they wrote.

It’s not clear when or even if Wright told his saviors about the faked emails. Regardless, their deal went ahead anyway. nCrypt was established, and Wright and Ramona prepared to move to London.

17: The Stage is Set

With a little help from his new business partners, Wright began setting the stage to unmask himself as Bitcoin’s secret creator, Satoshi Nakamoto; albeit at a glacial pace.

Strangely enough, the first step Wright took toward revealing himself as Satoshi was through an Amazon review he left on Nathanial Popper’s book Digital Gold: The Untold Story of Bitcoin in mid 2015.

He wrote:

“Always the assumption that SN must be a bloody yank. The analysis of who Satoshi is is always so limited. I enjoyed the parts from 2012 most. I did not know most of this as I was too focused on my own work and missed the outside growth. What really gets me is that so much occurs away from Silicon Valley and yet this is assumed to the centre of everything.”

Wright’s review of Nathanial Popper’s book on Amazon.

Wright then added a new line of text to a blog post he originally posted back in 2009. The new text read, “it does always surprise me how at times the best place to hide is right in the open.”

We can tell Wright didn’t add the new line until October 2015 by using the Wayback machine, which archives websites and allows anyone to see when changes are made to sites. The Wayback machine has older versions of this post that don’t show the added text.

The Wayback Machine also shows that Wright changed the header of his blog to read. “I mined Bitcoin in the past and write code” shortly after he changed the blog post - in December 2015.

*Wright has falsely claimed that Wayback Machine archives aren’t admissible in court. To see why they are, please review the lawsuit Marten Transport Ltd v Platform Advertising Inc, in which Wayback Machine evidence was accepted during a US court case, and was instrumental in its outcome.

After Wright added the new Bitcoin-related content to his blog, his investors Matthews and MacGregor then reached out to Andrew O’Hagan to see if he would be interested in writing the life story of the “true person behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.”

O’Hagan was told that the story would generate “significant publicity and media coverage once Satoshi’s true identity is revealed,” which strongly suggests Wright, MacGregor and Matthews were working together to ‘out’ Wright as Satoshi.

During an initial meeting between O’Hagan and Wright’s investors, MacGregor described Wright as “the goose that lays the golden egg.” His plan to cash in on these gold eggs, he said, was to “buy in, sell out, make some zeroes.” In other words, he planned to sell Wright’s IP to Google or another tech giant once he’d been outed as Satoshi, and then cut off all ties to Wright.
Wright promised O’Hagan that he would provide cryptographic proof of his claims, and that this might happen during a TED talk. O’Hagan later said that during these initial meetings, MacGregor and Matthews came across as dead certain that Wright was Satoshi, and that they were determined to out him.

The next stage of the plan involved sending out bundles of ‘proof,’ which was made to look like a leak, to a few dozen prominent journalists who cover crypto. These included Nathanial Popper, whose book Wright reviewed on Amazon, and Leah McGrath Goodman, who ‘outed’ Dorian Nakamoto as Satoshi Nakamoto earlier in the year, as well as Wired and Gizmodo - two tech sites which cover crypto news.

After the proof package reached the public and Wright had been outed, Goodman tweeted “We all got it [the proof]. It was being shopped around fairly aggressively this autumn.” Likewise, Popper said, “Got a very curious email attempting to dox Craig Wright -- Wired's Satoshi -- back in Oct. Didn't find it convincing at the time.”

Newsweek journalist Leah McGrath Goodman.

Although neither Goodman nor Popper found Wright’s ‘evidence’ convincing enough to pursue, journalists from Wired and Gizmodo thought there might be something to Wright’s claims.

They started sniffing around Wright’s businesses towards the end of 2015, trying to figure out if the leak was real. The trail led them to Wright’s home in the suburbs of Sydney, where on Dec. 8 they knocked on his front door and asked him straight out, “are you Satoshi Nakamoto?”

Wright slammed the door in their faces, and then phoned Matthews in a panic. Matthews immediately moved him and his wife Ramona into a plush apartment at the Meriton World Tower in Sydney. This, it would turn out, was amazingly fortunate timing for Craig Wright. Because had these journalists not turned up when they did, Wright would almost certainly have ended up in handcuffs.

18: The ATO Come Knocking

At 1:30pm the following afternoon, the ATO stormed through Wright’s front door.

ATO Agents leaving the Wright family home. Still image from video footage from the Guardian.

Many of the agents wore shirts branded “computer forensics.” They rifled through boxes in the garage and brought many of Wright’s belongings out onto the driveway. They were looking for bank and mobile phone records, research papers, computers, hard drives, and photographs. Their warrant cited 32 individuals, including “Satoshi Nakamoto.”

The journalists who had tried to speak with Wright the previous day were parked right outside the house, so his landlord, who lived nearby, went and spoke with them.

He complained that Wright was using excessive electricity to run racks of computers on the property, which could have been used for Bitcoin mining. We can’t know for sure, however, because Wright and Ramona moved them into the Sydney flat the previous evening. The landlord also mentioned that Wright and Ramona were planning on moving to London soon.

Shortly thereafter, the ATO raided Wright’s Sydney offices. The agents herded the staff into the middle of the room and warned them not to go near any of the computers or phones. Some briefly tried to intervene and warned the agents they needed to call their lawyers, but the agents carried on their search anyway.

19: Wright Briefly Becomes Satoshi

Later that same day, journalists from Wired published the proof package that Wright’s associates had “shopped around fairly aggressively.”

Wired’s piece outing Wright.

A few hours later, Gizmodo published an article titled “This Australian Says He And His Dead Friend Invented Bitcoin,” which also said Wright had probably invented Bitcoin.

The Wired article was broadly positive in its treatment of Wright, and backed him to be Satoshi Nakamoto. “The signs point to Craig Steven Wright, a man who…fits the cryptocurrency creator’s profile in nearly every detail,” its journalists wrote.

Both Wired and Gizmodo relied heavily on the tranche of ‘leaked’ documents to substantiate their claims. “According to a cache of documents provided to Gizmodo which were corroborated in interviews, Craig Steven Wright, an Australian businessman based in Sydney, and Dave Kleiman, an American computer forensics expert who died in 2013, were involved in the development of the digital currency [Bitcoin],” journalists for Gizmodo wrote.

The evidence package included a collection of emails and documents purporting to show Wright controlled Satoshi’s email accounts. These included PDF transcripts of a meeting in which Wright claims to have invented Bitcoin (image below), and a draft legal agreement between Wright and Kleiman which spelled out the terms of the Tulip Trust (discussed in section 14).

Leaked transcript showing Wright claiming to have been involved with Bitcoin from 2009.

The emails (discussed in section 7) are unverifiable, as only PDF and JPEG captures of the emails were provided, and not the actual email. The same can be said for the meeting transcripts, which the ATO refused to verify as authentic.

Leaked email showing Wright emailing from Satoshi’s email.

As for the draft Tulip Trust agreement, (discussed in sections 6 and 14), this also doesn’t pass muster. (To recap, it’s grammatically disastrous, riddled with factual errors, and wasn’t notarised, so we don’t know when it was written).

As part of its investigation into Wright, Wired reached out to his ex-wife Lynn for comment. She said she remembered Wright developing Bitcoin with Klieman “many years ago,” but she didn’t have any hard evidence backing this up.

The journalists then contacted Wright’s accountant, who, according to the evidence pack, received emails from Satoshi’s email address - satoshi@vistomail.com - which were signed by Wright. They asked the accountant whether he received the emails, and if he remembers Wright telling the ATO he was Satoshi Nakamoto. He replied, “I might’ve...that was a year ago.”

We should consider here whether Satoshi would have told his accountant - someone he probably didn’t know that well - that he invented Bitcoin in an off-the-cuff comment. Given the time and effort Satoshi would have spent protecting his identity - as well as the fact that he left no digital trail whatsoever - this simply doesn’t seem plausible.

Once Wired and Gizmodo had outed Wright, cryptographers, journalists and Twitter users poured over the evidence, trying to figure out whether this Australian businessman, most of whom had never heard of, was really Satoshi Nakamoto.

20: Wright Goes On The Run

Wright and Ramona were at the Sydney flat when the ATO stormed their home and offices. It’s not clear whether one of their neighbors or employees called them and warned them, but as soon as they heard the news they began packing their belongings and planning to leave Australia.

Guardian coverage of Wright’s outing.

At the same time, news broke online that the ATO were raiding the house of someone suspected of inventing Bitcoin. Thanks to the Wired and Gizmodo articles, half a dozen journalists parked outside his home photographing during the raid. At the time, most of them (and most of the commentariat) were convinced that the two events were connected. That’s no longer the case, however, as we now have details of the ATO investigation.
Before Wright and Ramona could begin packing, however, they received a call from the reception of their new residence. The ATO were in the lobby with a warrant to search the new flat.

The couple gathered up as many laptops and phones as they could manage and fled the apartment. Wright realized if he took the lift he risked running face first into a group of ATO agents, so he dropped down two floors via the stairs and hid in a bathroom to wait for the agents to pass him by.

After an incredibly close shave where an agent was actually in the bathroom with him, he walked down the remaining sixty flights of stairs to the basement car park, got into his car and drove off into the rush hour traffic.

While Wright had been hiding in the bathroom, Ramona had called Stefan Matthews. The pair quickly made arrangements for Wright to leave the country right away. The only problem was that he’d left his passport back at the apartment.

Ramona daringly snuck back into the apartment after the ATO finished their search and, surprisingly, managed to retrieve her husband’s passport. She then booked him onto the next flight to New Zealand, and instructed him to drive to the airport.

After another close scrape with the authorities where he was nearly stopped from boarding his plane, Wright clambered onto the plane which escorted him out of Australia and the ATO’s jurisdiction. From there he would travel to Manila, and then on to London.

21: The World Doubts Wright’s Claims

While Wright was escaping from the clutches of the ATO, journalists and Reddit sleuths combed through the ‘leaked’ evidence that he might be Satoshi Nakamoto. It wasn’t long before they found a series of flaws in the evidence that led many to believe it had been faked.

Wired’s Headline.

The Conversation - a digital media network mainly used by academics - kicked things off by analyzing the articles Wright wrote for the site, and his comments on other peoples’ work. Its team found “specific evidence that Craig Wright is very unlikely to be Satoshi Nakamoto.”

Its analysis showed that throughout 2011, Wright wrote many articles for the Conversation about cybersecurity, and he regularly commented on his own and others’ articles. He only mentioned Bitcoin once - at the end of a long list of alternative payment providers who might replace PayPal. Here’s the comment:

‘Bit Coin is a digital currency. Bit Coin offers a full peer-to-peer currency solution. P2P transfer of funds is available using methods that can even be untraceable.’

Given that Wright claims to have invented Bitcoin, you would think he’d be able to spell it correctly. You would also expect him to rank it above Google Checkout on a list of PayPal alternatives.

The Conversation also pointed out that Wright’s writings were consistently “pro-capitalist, anti-hacktivist [and] pro-corporate,” which hardly matches up with what Satoshi believed.

Wright’s reputation sunk lower on December 11th when Wired backtracked on its earlier assertions by casting doubt on his claims in a new article titled, “New Clues Suggest Craig Wright, Suspected Bitcoin Creator, May Be a Hoaxer.” The tech site cited three reasons to believe Wright had conducted an elaborate hoax.
(1) Wright’s claim that he worked with a SGI - a high-performance supercomputing firm - were proved false.

He had shared a letter which said SGI would be helping his company Cloudcroft to build a supercomputer. The letter even featured the SGI logo and a signature from SGI director Greg McKeon. But when SGI were asked about their relationship with Wright, they said they had never heard of him.

(2) It was discovered that Wright had lied about having not one, but two PhDs from Charles Sturt University. After Wired and Gimodo wrote that he had earned doctorates from Charles Sturt, the university wrote to Forbes and said, “Mr Wright has not been awarded a PhD from CSU.”
It later emerged that Wright had been lying about having a PhD for quite some time; an archive capture of his LinkedIn page shows he claimed to have a PhD all the way back in 2012.

(3) Two PGP keys which appeared to link Wright with Nakamoto were deliberately made to look older (and more authentic) than they really were.

Analysts from Motherboard pointed out that it was “trivially easy to forge the creation date on a PGP key.” Staff writer Jordan Pearson actually created a PGP key for himself that looks like it was created in 2008, and he uploaded it to MIT’s public key server.
On Dec. 12, 2015, the day after Wired’s piece went live, a financial cryptographer by the name of Ian Grigg shared some information about the weeks leading up to Wright’s outing which purported to show Wright was outed as Satoshi against his wishes.

Ian Grigg’s Tweet thread.

In a series of tweets, Grigg said that Wright’s family and friends had told him Wright was the victim of an extortion plot for “money and other outrageous things.” If those demands weren’t met, Grigg claimed, the extortionists threatened to “reveal [something] to ATO.” He neglected to say what this ‘something’ was.

Grigg then wrote “extortionists proved intent by revealing claims to press & others. Several were relayed back to CW.” He appears to claim here that Wright was outed against his wishes as part of an elaborate extortion plot.

The problem with Grigg’s story is that we know for a fact that Stefan Matthews and Rob MacGregor were planning to ‘out’ Wright as part of their deal to pay off his fines and debts at the exact same time he was in fact outed. So how could someone threaten him with something he planned to do himself?
Matthews and MacGregor were apparently unperturbed by how the media reacted to Wright’s claims and evidence, according to Andrew O’Hagan, who was with them at the time. “The nCrypt people were unfazed by this mudslinging, believing that every one of the charges made against Wright could be easily disproved,” he wrote.

At the time, Wright apparently felt that he was “being misunderstood by everybody.”

22: Why did Wright Claim to be Satoshi?

Was Craig Wright being extorted by Stefan Matthews and Rob MacGregor? Or did he make a Faustian pact to avoid a multi-million dollar fine and stay out of jail?

Craig Wright with Calvin Ayre at a book launch.

We ought to remind ourselves here that it was Wright who approached Matthews and MacGregor and told them he invented Bitcoin; they weren’t looking for Satoshi Nakamoto. And it was Wright who landed himself in trouble with the ATO, so that he faced millions in fines and lawyers fees and a possible jail sentence.

Stefan Matthews told Andrew O‘Hagan that when he looked at Wright’s companies after Wright approached him for a bailout, there weren’t any business plans for any of the businesses.

What’s more, Wright’s personal finances were in dire straits, and his companies couldn’t pay their staff; a number had already left before the bailout.

Indeed, in a moment of sheer frustration, Wright’s wife Ramona told O’Hagan that “we have sold our souls,” which suggests she and Wright understood the seriousness of the situation they had tangled themselves up in.

It’s possible, then, or perhaps even likely, that Wright simply invented a story that he was Satoshi Nakamoto in order to get out from under a mounting pile of fines and debt.

Perhaps when he promised Matthews and MacGregor that he would ‘out’ himself, he actually had no intention of doing so; maybe he thought he could wiggle out of this obligation, and that he would never have to prove his claims. Indeed, Ramona would later reveal that Craig had privately expressed his hope that his claim to be Satoshi could stay under wraps.

But some, like Ian Grigg, were certain that Wright was being extorted. Because, to an outsider who understood neither Wright’s personal financial situation nor the financial health of his businesses, it would certainly look like he was being extorted.

Explaining his belief that Wright was being extorted, Grigg wrote on his blog:

“Sometime in summer of 2015 the secret started to spread, and the writing was on the wall. An extortionist and a hacker started attacking, perhaps together, perhaps apart; to add to the woes, Dr Wright and his companies were engaged in a long harsh bitter battle with the Australian Tax Office. Since then, the team has been more or less in hiding, guarded, at great expense and at some fear.”

In the end, then, it seems that Craig Wright wasn’t quite ‘extorted,’ rather, he was forced into doing something he didn’t want to do, in order to get something he badly needed - but that would see his remaining credibility go up in flames.

Click here for part three, where we explore the years of the fallout from the Wired and Gizmodo articles, as well as Wright’s next attempt to prove his claims, and his recent lawsuits against those who say he’s not Satoshi.

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