Public interest has risen as the days go by in the trial of Kleiman v Wright where up to half of 1.1 million Bitcoin valued at about $69 million is at stake. Mainstream media have flocked to the courtroom to bear witness to the Bitcoin courtroom drama.
And as defendant Dr. Craig S. Wright takes the stand on Day 6, the courtroom has been filled to capacity, with many not even being able to get inside due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It must be noted that the big question here is, “Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?” For this trial, the answer to this question is either Satoshi is Wright alone or a partnership between Wright and the late David Kleiman.
It is important to highlight that Wright being Satoshi Nakamoto is not in question. The question is whether or not Wright partnered with Dave Kleiman as Satoshi Nakamoto.
The plaintiff, represented by Dave’s brother Ira Kleiman, is asserting that Satoshi Nakamoto is a partnership between the two and that they were business partners in mining the 1.1 million Bitcoin.
However, the plaintiff side has yet to provide compelling evidence that would state without a doubt that their allegations are true. Wright’s testimony, which has only just begun, is expected to shed more light on the case. And here are some of what stood out during Wright’s testimony for the plaintiff.
The “B” Logo
According to Wright, the Thanksgiving 2009 story that Ira Kleiman recounted in court wherein Dave Kleiman allegedly drew the “B” logo with one or two lines going through it and showed it to his brother simply does not make sense.
Even if Dave Kleiman is in partnership with Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto, the logo did not have anything to do with Satoshi Nakamoto. In fact, it is all out in public record that username “NewLiberty” was the one who proposed that “B” logo. The actual logo of Bitcoin in 2009 is that of a gold coin with “BC” on it.
Partnership between Dave Kleiman and Wright
There was indeed a partnership between Wright and Dave Kleiman related to Bitcoin. Wright has been very forthcoming about this, detailing their work in a project called “Coin Exchange” and “c01ns,” a Bitcoin wallet.
Wright and Kleiman also worked together in testing the “unbounded” protocol on the Bitcoin testnet to see how big blocks could be mined using a supercomputer. And they were successful in mining a 300GB block at a throughput of a few millions of transactions per second.
At this point, Wright calmly turns to address the jury to explain that a testnet is essentially a test network where a variety of things could be tested. The testnet is not the actual Bitcoin network, and no actual Bitcoin was mined by Kleiman and Wright.
“Almost every blockchain out there had the lead developer pre-mine coins or give himself some kind of dev tax or whatever else. Satoshi Nakamoto specifically used the times headline chancellor on the brink of second bailout for banks as a way to prove that the Genesis block was mined on a specific day, and therefore, they were not pre-mined coins. Satoshi Nakamoto did not want to give himself an extra edge and didn’t want to give himself the legal problems of having a dev fund or whatever, because that creates legal problems,” Kurt Wuckert Jr., a journalist covering the Kleiman v Wright trial, said during a video livestream.
Wright’s testimony also shows that these partnerships did not occur until 2011, and Bitcoin was released on October 31, 2008. Furthermore, there has been no evidence that these partnerships were lucrative, as Dave Kleiman was very sick in the last couple of years of his life, and the ventures (Coin Exchange and c01ns) did not really take off. Furthermore, none of these partnerships was ever directly proven to be mining the 1.1 million Bitcoin in question.
“[Craig] is not saying Dave didn’t know about Bitcoin, or he didn’t have any pre-knowledge, but it just doesn’t make Dave a business partner. I think the reason for that is because Satoshi Nakamoto was not in a business. And Bitcoin was not a business asset. Bitcoin is a nameless, sovereign money that was given to the world under a pseudonym,” Wuckert explained.
Wright’s Emails to Ira Kleiman
One of the most compelling pieces of evidence the plaintiff has against Wright is that he sent an email to Ira Kleiman after Dave Kleiman’s death stating that Dave Kleiman might be in possession of Bitcoin. As Wright explains, he and Dave Kleiman had been mining Bitcoin on the test network, Dave Kleiman had been advised by Wright to mine Bitcoin, and Dave Kleiman had the necessary know-how to mine Bitcoin, so it was logical of him to assume that Dave Kleiman had mined Bitcoin.
It was an act of goodwill that Wright alerted Ira Kleiman of this fact. The burden of gaining access to those coins—if they really did exist—is out of Wright’s hands as no hard drive has been passed on to him.
Furthermore, it was not only later on that Wright had learned of the existence of Ira Kleiman. After Dave Kleiman’s death, Wright had been in contact with Dave Kleiman’s fiancé, who told him that according to Dave Kleiman himself, his brother was dead. There was no mention of any other sibling.
Again, this highlights the fact that Dave Kleiman had an estranged relationship with Ira Kleiman. This is something that is worth noting because it makes clear that Ira Kleiman’s motivation for this lawsuit is money—not to restore the honor of his brother as the co-author of the Bitcoin white paper.
The question of Wright stealing Dave Kleiman’s Satoshi coins is a very hard burden to prove. Wright not in the United States after Kleiman’s death to actually get ahold of his alleged private keys to Bitcoin that may have been stored in his hard drives. Only Ira Kleiman and Dave Kleiman’s business partner and best friend, Patrick Paige, had access to those hard drives.
“Why would Craig have Dave’s coins? Craig did not go to the USA after Dave [died]. None of this happened. How would he have gotten them? Was it multisig? Because if it was multi-sig, Craig couldn’t just take his coins either. Or was it this multi-trust key shares thing? Well, Craig couldn’t just take that either. Again, that would require trust and everybody to be in one place to turn all the keys at once kind of thing, right. And so, if they’re making the case that Craig stole Dave’s coins, when could Craig, and how could Craig have stolen Dave’s Satoshi coins?”
Wright vs. Freedman
It is interesting to note that during Wright’s testimony, legal counsel for the plaintiff Devin Freedman seems to have lost to Wright several times as the latter would rephrase the former’s questions in what he believes is the right way of wording that question.
While Wright maintains his calm demeanor, Freedman is seen being frustrated a few times. Only Wright has directly addressed the jury in explaining some of the more technical terms that normal people would have a hard time understanding.
This not only shows Wright’s expert command of the subject matter but may also indicate that he is confident that he would not lose this trial. Wright may have some damning evidence that he, and he alone, is Satoshi Nakamoto, which is where his calm and confident demeanor stems from. The next few days may prove to be very exciting as the plaintiff continues with Wright’s testimony.
Read a factual summary of the trial, including all witnesses, here.