A federal judge said Craig Wright’s objection to handing over crucial evidence regarding billions in bitcoin left her “puzzled,” as he seemed to be arguing the court should “blindly accept” everything he says.
District Judge Beth Bloom overruled Wright’s objections to an Order of Discovery issued by another judge, compelling Wright to produce 11,000 documents for the Kleiman lawsuit. She said the defendant mischaracterized the order and relied on unsubstantiated arguments.
In a highly critical explanation for her decision for the Southern District Court of Florida, Bloom said it was the role of the presiding judge to determine what evidence was admissible in court. She ruled Wright’s arguments that the documents would be inadmissible because they would disregard his attorney-client privilege was a mischaracterization.
The brother of Wright’s deceased business partner is suing Wright for half of the 1.1 million bitcoin supposedly held in a joint mining venture known as the Tulip Trust. Based on today’s price, the overall value of the bitcoin in question would be more than $7.7 billion, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index.
Wright has long claimed to have access to the bitcoin but has told the court he couldn’t prove this as it would infringe on the privilege he has with a mysterious Kenyan lawyer known as Denis Mayaka, who is supposedly counsel for the Tulip Trust.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart had previously rejected these arguments and even questioned whether the lawyer exists. Kleiman’s brother has further accused Wright of abusing attorney privilege to withhold evidence and “obfuscate” trial proceedings.
As Bloom said in this week’s court order, Reinhart already highlighted Wright’s relationship with this lawyer could not properly be authenticated. The evidence consists of a LinkedIn printout and typed declaration asserting he is counsel for the Trust. This “could easily have been generated by anyone with word processing software and a pen,” Reinhart had said.
In her reasons for overruling Wright’s objections, Bloom said Reinhart “was not clearly erroneous or acting contrary to law” after he issued the discovery order. “Defendant’s gripe, therefore, is not with the supposed exclusion of the evidence but instead with the weight assigned to it.”
Bloom said Reinhart’s skepticism was justified on the basis of Wright’s history of providing false evidence.
“[T]he Court is puzzled by Defendant’s apparent argument that Judge Reinhart must blindly accept items produced by Defendant such that Judge Reinhart cannot rely on his past experiences with Defendant in this litigation (including his history of providing forged materials and giving perjured testimony) in evaluating whether Defendant has carried his burden as to privilege.”
“That is not how fact-finding works,” Bloom added.
Bloom found nothing to support Wright’s argument that producing the evidence would leave him in violation of Australian law. She also threw out claims the magistrate judge should have determined whether documents were relevant to the proceedings before ordering Wright to produce them in court.
The court order is the latest development in a long lawsuit characterized by bad blood on both sides. Wright was previously found to be in contempt of court, while just last month Reinhart criticized Kleiman’s legal team for charging “excessive fees” that were to be paid by the defendant due to the drawn-out proceedings.
Wright now has until April 17 to produce the requested documents.
See the full filing below:
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