A new report has shed details on the story of Craig Wright, the Australian academic and businessman who earlier this year sought to prove he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin.
The mammoth 35,000-word piece by journalist and novelist Andrew O’Hagan captures the behind-the-scenes effort of Wright’s controversial reveal earlier this year, when he sat for interviews with The Economist, GQ and the BBC as part of an effort to bolster his claim. That move came months after tech publications Gizmodo and Wired published reports in December connecting Wright to the Satoshi identity.
The story contains a number of interesting facts and anecdotes, including the claim that Wright lost funds in the collapse of Costa Rican digital currency firm Liberty Reserve and once had a face-to-face meeting with Ross Ulbricht, the convicted operator of the Silk Road online dark market. It also offers new details on Dave Kleiman, who was reportedly an early force in the project before passing away in mid-2013.
One running theme of the story is Wright's effort to patent aspects of the technology underlying bitcoin as part of a reported deal with a company called nTrust, which offers a money exchange app and, according to the LBR report, had struck the foundations of a deal that would see the filing of a number of patents related to the blockchain and digital currency under the auspices of a new firm, nCrypt.
The patent development process appears to have been driven by a desire to sell big – and soon. According to the LBR, "the hurry for the patents was to help with the giant sale to Google or whomever".
Work, the story outlines, had already begun at a new research center based in London, and movements toward meetings with Google and Uber had begun, nTrust executives told the publication. O’Hagan spent months working closely with Wright for his story depicting the run-up to the big reveal, and at one point Wright asserts that there had been hundreds of bitcoin and blockchain-patents waiting in the wings.
He told the publication:
"We have hundreds of patents and papers in progress – research from the beginning – and in the next year we’re going to start releasing them."
Perhaps most importantly, part of the deal entailed Wright proving that he was actually Satoshi Nakamoto. The company was the driving force behind the process, with nTrust spearheading the effort to source public relations staffers and journalists to manage the reveal.
As part of the deal, nTrust would settle Wright’s problems with the Australian Tax Office, which had launched an investigation into Wright and his business holdings after he sought business tax credits. In the wake of the December publications, Australian authorities raided his home in the country as part of that investigation.
Yet those efforts were scuttled by Wright’s aborted reveal, the LBR report shows. After Wright’s initial reveal sparked broad criticism about the signature details published on his personal blog, the plan shifted to one that would see the alleged bitcoin creator move a stash of early bitcoins from one address to another. Former Bitcoin Core maintainer Gavin Andresen would act as recipient, according to O’Hagan’s report.
This plan, too, would fall apart, after Wright published a terse, final blog post stating that he would not provide any further evidence to bolster his Satoshi claim. This was reportedly the final blow to any deal between Wright and the nTrust team.
But a new report from Reuters suggests that the patent effort explored in O’Hagan’s story isn’t finished.
According to the news agency, a business venture called EITC Holdings Ltd that is tied to Wright has submitted 50 patent applications in the UK related to digital currencies and blockchain tech, and that it may seek to submit as many as 400 total.
Data provided by the UK Intellectual Property Office shows that the EITC has submitted a range of patent applications focused on the technology filed this year, including ones for "implementing logic gate functionality using a blockchain", an "operating system for blockchain IOT devices" and "methods and systems for the efficient transfer of entities on a peer-to-peer distributed ledger".
Image via BBC