NEW YORK (REUTERS) – A computer scientist who has claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin largely prevailed on Monday (Dec 6) in a Florida jury trial over whether the estate of a former business partner deserved half of a Bitcoin cache worth now about US$54 billion (S$73.9 billion).
The Miami jury cleared Mr Craig Wright on nearly all issues in the dispute, including that half of the 1.1 million Bitcoin in dispute belonged to the family of Mr Dave Kleiman, the former partner and computer forensics expert.
While concluding that Mr Wright was not liable for fraud, jurors did award US$100 million in intellectual property rights to W&K Information Defence Research, a joint venture between the men. The trial began on Nov 1.
“This has been a remarkable good outcome and I feel completely vindicated,” Mr Wright said in a video message. “There are still more fights. We are going to make everything change: cryptocurrency to digital cash, the way it’s meant to be.”
According to court papers, the 1.1 million Bitcoin had been mined by someone called Satoshi Nakamoto, whose October 2008 white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” described a framework for what would become Bitcoin.
Mr Wright claimed in 2016 that he was Nakamoto, which was a pseudonym. But many in the crypto community were sceptical of Mr Wright’s claim, in part because he had not moved any of the early Bitcoin presumed to have been mined by Nakamoto, CNBC said.
Mr Kleiman’s family contended that he and Mr Wright had been friends and business partners, but that Mr Wright stole the Bitcoin stemming from their relationship.
In a statement, lawyers for W&K and Mr Kleiman’s estate said they were “immensely gratified” that the jury awarded the US$100 million in intellectual property rights, and help give the Kleimans “their fair share of what Dave helped create”. Mr Kleiman died in April 2013.
The Australia-born Mr Wright, who later moved to London, sued 16 software developers in May to secure around 111,000 Bitcoin now worth about US$5.4 billion that he claimed he owns.