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Craig Wright Moves to Dismiss 'Shakedown' Bitcoin Lawsuit

Craig Wright, the chief scientist of blockchain startup nChain who once claimed to be bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, has filed a motion in U.S. federal court to dismiss a billion-dollar lawsuit filed against him.

As previously reported, Wright is being sued by Ira Kleiman, filed the lawsuit in February on behalf of the estate of his brother, the late Dave Kleiman. Dave Kleiman, an author and forensic computer investigator, was previously linked to the development of bitcoin in its earliest days, and later died in 2013 following a battle with MRSA.

Ira Kleiman accused Wright of scheming to “seize Dave’s bitcoins and his rights to certain intellectual property associated with the Bitcoin technology,” and is seeking the roughly 1.1 million bitcoins (worth roughly $8.8 billion as of press time) or its “fair market value,” as well as compensation for the IP claims.

In a court filing dated April 16, Wright – who is being represented in the suit by Miami law firm Rivero Mestre LLP – moved to dismiss the complaint. In the motion, Weight argued that Ira Kleiman’s claims are without merit and that the plaintiff lacks any standing to file suit, calling the effort an “attempted shakedown” based on “a thin soup of supposition, speculation, conflicting allegations, hearsay and innuendo.”

Kleiman, Wright claimed, knew nothing of his late brother’s activities related to bitcoin until after he had passed away. At that point, Wright claimed, he himself told Ira that his brother “might have left a legacy in the form of bitcoins and codes on hard drives held by the estate,” according to the motion to dismiss.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” it adds.

Wright went on to claim that, when Ira Kleiman was unable to access his brother’s bitcoin holdings, he “trained his sights on Dr. Wright’s bitcoins” and “mined Australian tabloids for the raw materials needed to cook up his stew of contradictory, absurd, and legally insufficient allegations.” Wright does not control the private keys needed to access those funds, the motion goes on to assert.

He also argued that the court lacks jurisdiction over Wright for the alleged activities, noting that an Australian court has already heard the matter and that its decision cannot be considered invalid as the plaintiff argues.

Wright was first identified as bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator in 2015 by several news outlets, sparking a wave of controversy that continues to this day. The bitcoin community was largely skeptical regarding the claims, with some alleging that the proof offered is fraudulent. Wright ultimately declared that he would offer no additional proof to back the Satoshi claim.

The full motion to dismiss can be found below:

Gavel image via Shutterstock.

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'Satoshi' Craig Wright Is Being Sued for $10 Billion

Craig Wright, the nChain chief scientist who previously claimed to be the pseudonymous bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, is being sued for a whopping $10 billion.

The lawsuit is being brought by Ira Kleiman on behalf of the estate of his brother, Dave, who has been linked to the earliest days of bitcoin. Kleiman, a forensic computer investigator and author, passed away in 2013 following a battle with MRSA.

Kleiman’s role in the development of bitcoin came to light amid the controversy from late 2015, when Wright – an Australian businessman and academic – was the subject of reports by publications like Gizmodo and Wired, who identified him as the possible identity behind Nakamoto, who departed the project in 2010.

The bitcoin community responded mostly with skepticism regarding the claims, with some alleging that the proof offered by Wright was fraudulent in nature. Wright later said that he would offer no additional proof to back the claim, and in the years since he has worked as the chief scientist for startup nChain and aligned with Bitcoin Cash, the breakaway cryptocurrency that launched last summer.

At the heart of the new lawsuit, according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Feb. 14, is an alleged hoard of more than 1.1 million bitcoins, which Ira Kleiman’s lawyers say is worth in excess of $10 billion. He is being represented by Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.

Wright, court records show, has been accused of allegedly conducting “a scheme against Dave’s estate to seize Dave’s bitcoins and his rights to certain intellectual property associated with the Bitcoin technology.”

“As part of this plan, Craig forged a series of contracts that purported to transfer Dave’s assets to Craig and/or companies controlled by him. Craig backdated these contracts and forged Dave’s signature on them,” attorneys for the plaintiff wrote.

Included alongside the complaint are a number of additional filings, including the business registration for a firm called W&K Info Defense Research LLC, in which Kleiman and Wright were business partners.

In addition to the roughly 1.1 million bitcoins, Ira Kleiman is also seeking compensation for the intellectual property his lawyers claim arose from the partnership between his deceased brother and Wright.

“…Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendant for the value of the wrongfully retained Bitcoin and IP, together with court costs, interest, and any other relief this Court deems just and proper,” the complaint states.

Wright issued a one-word comment on Twitter when asked about the lawsuit.

Notably, the complaint doesn’t seek to assert whether Wright is the person behind the Nakamoto identity, stating that “it is unclear whether Craig, Dave and/or both created Bitcoin” (though at least one observer says that the issue could ultimately come before the court if the suit progresses).

“For reasons not yet completely clear, they chose to keep their involvement in Bitcoin hidden from most of their family and friends. It is undeniable, however, that Craig and Dave were involved in Bitcoin from its inception and that they both accumulated a vast wealth of bitcoins from 2009 through 2013,” it goes on to say.

The full complaint can be found below:

Complaint by CoinDesk on Scribd

Justice statue image via Shutterstock

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