UK Court Freezes Craig Wright’s Assets Amid Satoshi Nakamoto Identity Dispute

April 2, 2024
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A court in the U.K. has frozen assets worth £6 million (approximately $7.6 million) belonging to Craig Wright, preventing him from evading legal costs stemming from a lawsuit in which he asserted himself as Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin.

The decision came after it was discovered that Wright had moved assets out of the U.K. following a prior court dismissal of his claim to be Nakamoto. Specifically, he transferred shares from his London-based company, RCJBR Holding, to a Singaporean firm on March 18, raising concerns about his intentions.

Judge James Mellor, in response to these actions, expressed serious concerns that Wright might be attempting to avoid the costs and consequences of losing the suit. He stated, “Understandably, that gave rise to serious concerns on COPA’s part that Dr. Wright was implementing measures to seek to evade the costs and consequences of his loss at trial.”

The judge’s decision to implement a ‘worldwide freezing order’ came at the request of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) to cover their legal expenses amounting to $8,471,225.

Established in 2020, COPA aims to promote the adoption of cryptocurrency technology and remove patents as a barrier to growth. Its members include prominent entities such as Coinbase, Block, Meta, MicroStrategy, and others.

Wright, an Australian computer scientist, has been embroiled in copyright disputes related to the Bitcoin network, leveraging his alleged identity as Nakamoto. In January, 2021, he even demanded the removal of the Bitcoin white paper from two websites.

COPA challenged Wright’s claims by initiating a lawsuit in April that year, disputing his assertions about the Bitcoin copyright. The case involved contributions from early Bitcoin developers, culminating in a verdict on March 14 this year that strongly suggested Wright was not the true Nakamoto.

Wright’s confrontational approach toward Bitcoin extended to suing 13 Bitcoin Core developers and several companies for copyright infringements in 2023. The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund opposed these actions, highlighting the adverse effects of such lawsuits on Bitcoin’s development due to the stress and financial burden they impose.

Wright’s actions, including a 2019 copyright registration for the Bitcoin white paper and code in the U.S., faced significant backlash. Nevertheless, the Bitcoin white paper remains under an MIT open-source license, permitting free modification and reuse, thereby safeguarding it from further copyright claims by Wright.

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