Craig Wright Offers New Details on Bitcoin Trust at Heart of Billion-Dollar Lawsuit

Daniel Kuhn
Jun 20, 2019 at 19:50 UTC
Updated Jun 26, 2019 at 19:29 UTC
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New details have emerged in the ongoing lawsuit in the U.S. filed last year against Craig S. Wright, the technologist who claims to be the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.

A redacted declaration filing from Kleiman v. Wright surfaced today, which details Wright’s purported ownership and the trustee scheme of the Tulip Trust, which supposedly holds over one million bitcoin. According to the filing, access to the holdings of the trust requires participation of all trustees, at least one of whom he hasn’t been in contact for several years.

The court document was originally filed on May 8, and also points to the existence of a second Tulip Trust, known as Tulip Trust II. 

Days before the document was filed, a federal court ordered Wright to disclose his bitcoin addresses in the ongoing lawsuit. Wright is being sued by Ira Kleiman on behalf of the estate of his brother, the late Dave Kleiman. The nChain chief scientist is accused of scheming to “seize Dave’s bitcoins and his rights to certain intellectual property associated with the bitcoin technology.”

Kleiman is seeking half of the 1.1 million bitcoins the two are said to have mined together, or its “fair market value,” as well as compensation for infringement of intellectual property. The initial complaint did not seek to ascertain whether Wright is the person behind the Nakamoto identity, stating that “it is unclear whether Craig, Dave and/or both created Bitcoin.”

According to the declaration released Thursday, the Tulip Trust consolidated the bitcoin Wright mined and purchased between 2009 and 2011. 

The trust first came to public attention through a leaked document on December 9, 2015. Allegedly written in 2011 by Dave Kleiman, a forensic computer investigator and author, the document describes a trust fund containing exactly 1,100,111 bitcoin, “to be managed by at least three people but not more than seven at any time.” The document also declares the bitcoin holding is to be returned to Craig Wright on January 1, 2020.

These new developments come amid an ongoing mediation process, which as of June 18 has yielded no results — in the words of the mediator, as reported by attorney Stephen Palley, “we are at an impasse.”

As it stands, Wright is due for deposition in Florida on June 28.

Trust details

According to Wright’s court declaration, seven trustees were named, including Craig Wright, David Kleiman, and Ms. Uyen Nguyen — whom Wright claimed he has had no contact with since 2016. That said, Kleiman was the initial, and sole, trustee before others were appointed.

Panopticrypt Pty Ltd, an Australian entity now in liquidation was also named alongside an unnamed Seychelles entity and CO1N Ltd., a U.K. entity liquidated in 2017.

“The contacts at CO1N were Dave Kleiman and Ms Nguyen, who was terminated as director on June 1, 2016. Presently, there is no one other than myself who was a contact for this entity.” Nguyen was allegedly terminated as director of CO1N in June 2016.

The final trustee listed is “the holder of PGP key IDs, which is Satoshi Nakamoto,” with Craig Wright parenthetically related.

In the past, Wright has said that the trust is encrypted using a a method called Shamir’s Secret Sharing Algorithm. The only way to access them, he’s said, is to accrue the collective private keys in order to decrypt it.

Wright complied with the directive pursuant to a court order to produce bitcoin holdings for all bitcoin Wright mined prior to December 31, 2013. The filings were subsequently sealed. 

The Tulip Trust II was settled in 2014 in Seychelles with Equator Consultants listed as a trustee. Wright and his wife Ramona Watts are the primary beneficiaries. The holdings of this second trust are unknown.

Wright also hinted at an inaccessible trove of bitcoin mined between 2011 and 2013 by staff at HighSecured and Signia Enterprises under his direction, to be held on behalf of the original Tulip Trust. Wright alleges the principles of HighSecured were arrested in 2015.

Wright has claimed in the past the Tulip Trust is currently inaccessible. In the court document Wright said:

“Access to the encrypted file that contains the public addresses and their associated private keys to the Bitcoin that I mined, requires myself and combination of trustees reference in Tulip Trust I to unlock based on Shamir scheme.”

Dave Kleiman passed away in 2013. Last December, the court denied Wright’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that he “converted at least 300,000 bitcoins upon Dave’s death and transferred them to various international trusts.”

The court filing can be found below:

6/20 Filing by CoinDesk on Scribd

Justice statue image via Shutterstock