FT Alphaville was in at the start of the performance art project known as Craig Wright. We’re obliged therefore to mark the end of what should (but probably won’t be) his last act.

A UK court ruled in March, after a month-long trial, that Wright was not Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of bitcoin. The Crypto Open Patent Alliance, an industry group, had brought the case in an effort to halt his legal actions against bitcoin developers.

Published today is the full judgment (PDF) which runs for 231 pages, with a 150 page appendix to cover the many forgeries submitted to court. The first-page summary is a succinct scene-setter:

Dr Wright presents himself as an extremely clever person. However, in my judgment, he is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. In both his written evidence and in days of oral evidence under cross-examination, I am entirely satisfied that Dr Wright lied to the Court extensively and repeatedly. Most of his lies related to the documents he had forged which purported to support his claim. All his lies and forged documents were in support of his biggest lie: his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto.

Here are a few more highlights.

Wright can’t be Satoshi, Satoshi was cool

Emails and early messageboard posts associated with Satoshi “convey an impression of a calm, knowledgeable, collaborative, precise person with little or no arrogance, willing to acknowledge and implement ideas and suggestions from others who had shown an interest in Bitcoin,” Justice James Mellor says. Meanwhile . . .

The picture painted by Dr Wright in his evidence was, in essence, that he was solely responsible for creating Bitcoin, that he was much cleverer than anyone else, that anyone who questioned his claim or his evidence was not qualified to do so or just didn’t understand what he was saying. In my judgment, the arrogance he displayed was at odds with what comes through from Satoshi’s writing. In short, in his writing and attitude Dr Wright just doesn’t sound or act like Satoshi.

Seeking to claim ownership of bitcoin through the courts is a very un-Satoshi thing to do, the judge concludes. Congratulations, you played yourself, he chooses not to add.

The judge is done with crypto bluster

Everyone who’s spent time among token traders will be familiar with their cult-like insistence that all disagreement springs from ignorance. Justice Mellor doesn’t want to hear it:

I recognise that Dr Wright will disagree with my findings and this Judgment and, true to the form he displayed on numerous occasions during his oral evidence as regards the expert evidence, he may well allege that I didn’t understand his technical explanations or other aspects of the technology.

Blockchain, etc, “is not particularly complex or difficult to understand”, says the judge. But though Wright was given opportunities to explain himself, he “simply engaged in technobabble”.

Wright’s method was to put a kernel of truth in a popcorn bucket of lies, which made it nearly “impossible to pin down every lie” the judge concludes. Outing each untruth would be a waste of time because “Wright would simply invent further lies in his attempts to cover up existing lies.”

In the land of the blind . . . 

As the judgment says:

It is clear that Dr Wright has a well-developed ability to persuade people of his technical acumen, when they do not fully understand what he is talking about. In other words, he can talk a good story.

What was forged?

What wasn’t? Here’s how the appendix begins:

To avoid setting out essentially the same conclusions 40 times, I can state at the outset that I find each of the allegations of forgery proved.

One of the more colourful examples relates to the credit card that Wright said bought the bitcoin.org domain registration in 2008. Wright provided screenshots — purportedly proof of purchase — that dated from 2018, when it was not longer possible to access records for the card.

When called on the forgery, Wright said he didn’t remember how he’d bought the domain name, and that he had been sent the screenshots by a lawyer on a previous trial who had since died, and that the lawyer had been sent them by an anonymous Reddit user.

This didn’t make a lot of sense. Wright had said in April 2019 that he could prove the purchase of the domain with credit card records. The mystery Reddit user only appeared to plant the evidence two months later.

Asked to explain how a Reddit user had access to his spending information, Wright said the card in the screenshot had been cancelled in 2005, only to be shown that it was used in 2009 at Lee Rowans Gardenworld.

And so it went on. Wright “was not able to put forward any coherent explanation for the forgeries which had been exposed, and yet he could not bring himself to accept that he was responsible for them,” the judgment says.

Being on the spectrum is no excuse

Wright says he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2020. On account of the condition, he was sometimes portrayed in court as a vulnerable witness who would act emotionally and impulsively.

The judge didn’t buy it:

Wright proved to be an extremely slippery witness. In many answers he included some slight qualification. He rarely gave a complete answer and this was deliberate – he was giving himself an ‘out’ for later. On occasion he was extremely pedantic. Initially I was inclined to give him some leeway due to his ASD, but his pedantry was not consistent. He was pedantic when it suited him and not when it didn’t.

Wright’s witnesses had some problems

Stefan Matthews, co-founder of blockchain consultancy nChain, was the last of Wright’s witnesses to be called. nChain had employed Wright as a consultant and its main backer, the Canadian businessman Calvin Ayre, once supported Wright’s claim to be Satoshi.

Wright claimed that he had shared the bitcoin white paper with Matthews in 2008, a claim the judge rejected. The argument was undermined in part by a WhatsApp message from Matthews to Christen Ager-Hanssen, nChain’s former CEO:

Matthews clearly expressed the view that Dr Wright was a fake. Responding to a message describing Dr Wright as the “Biggest fake ever”, Mr Matthews replied: “Fuck. WTF is wrong with him. Well, at least we have NCH [nChain] to focus on, that’s not fake.”

A mock trial arranged by Wright’s supporters concluded that he was lying

In September 2023, nChain organised a practice trial where Wright was cross-examined by a criminal barrister. The judge hired to preside over the mock trial found Wright’s claim to be Satoshi false.

Ayre immediately withdrew his support and emailed Wright to call him a moron. Ager-Hanssen posted the email on Twitter. Wright alleged in court that Ager-Hanssen was conspiring with COPA. The judge called this “another lie”.

[checks notes]

Another witness called by Wright’s team was Robert Jenkins, formerly of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. In cross-examination, Jenkins claimed that Wright had shown him a precursor to bitcoin, called Timecoin, in 2009 or 2010. It was a claim absent from his witness statement, so seems to have been intended “as a bomb to go off,” says the judge.

But when giving evidence, Jenkins referred to a note that had the word “Timecoin” written on it. Asked about this, Jenkins said he had written the note to himself during cross-examination, “when it was obvious to all in court that he had not done so”.

Timecoin can’t time travel

Wright said that last September he received the lost Timecoin document dating from 2008 by email from a “Papa Neema” then, five days later, discovered an identical copy on an old hard-drive. Despite being based in Nairobi, Neema’s emails were UK-timestamped.

The judge concluded that Timecoin was “created from the Bitcoin White Paper subsequently and edited in such a way that it appears as if it was precursor work,” and that Wright was emailing himself.

Probably not a *master* forger

The “Papa Neema” emails also included some invoices that Wright claimed were created on different dates over four years, but which all spelt it “Invoive” rather than “Invoice”.

Care with spelling wasn’t Wright’s strong point. In technical documents his “inconsistent and misspelling of the term ‘opcode’ was a small indicator that he was expounding on something outside his knowledge or experience,” says the judge. He also habitually misspelled Dr Adam Back, the inventor of Hashcash, an early proto-crypto project referenced in the bitcoin white paper Wright was claiming to have written, as Black.

One of Wright’s contentions was that if he was forging documents, he’d make a better job of it. The judge didn’t buy that one either.

Wright said in a tweet that he intends to appeal the judgment, also using the opportunity to promote his latest thing:

And as if to settle the matter:


Further reading
He’s not Satoshi, he’s a very naughty boy (FTAV)
Craig Wright has in no way been officially “recognised” as Satoshi (FTAV)

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