Lawyers representing the brother of Craig Wright's deceased business partner have accused the Australian entrepreneur of "abusing" client-attorney privilege to withhold documents and "obfuscate" trial proceedings.
In a memorandum filed Sunday at the Southern District Court of Florida (see below), the legal team representing Ira Kleiman – who is suing for $10 billion in bitcoin – has challenged Wright's "illusory" assertion that more than 11,000 company documents are inadmissible in court because they come under attorney-client privilege.
"Craig [Wright] has improperly withheld documents as privileged," stated Kleiman's counsel in the case that claims Wright unlawfully seized part of the late Dave Kleiman's estate. They argue Wright has used the fact that documents come from 18 companies, most of them defunct, to "hide" the documents from the court.
"[A]lmost all of the companies Defendant is using as a tool to assert 'privileges,' no longer exist ... any privilege these companies may have once had, does not survive their dissolution," claims Kleiman's legal team. As many of these pertain to the companies themselves, rather than to Wright personally, "they are unequivocally not privileged," the filing states.
For the three companies that still exist, "Craig’s privilege claim fails because he is not in the control group for these companies and therefore lacks standing to claim it," reads the filing. Attorneys claim Wright has "purposefully orchestrated" not being on leadership teams at the firms so as to be able to claim privilege "when it suits him."
The filing calls for the court to order Wright to present all documents from dissolved companies and third parties withheld under claimed privilege, as well as to clarify the privilege claims for other documents on the log.
Wright – who claims to be bitcoin's inventor Satoshi Nakamoto – has also said, according to the document, that the "bonded courier" – a third party he claimed had the private keys to the 1.1 million bitcoin in the Tulip Trust at the heart of the case – is also an attorney whose communications are privileged. The plaintiffs said they would "challenge this shortly," further alleging this action "continues to demonstrate a pattern of Craig's abuse of privilege claims."
In August, a judge found Wright had argued in bad faith, perjured himself and admitted false evidence during the motion. The court then ordered Wright to hand over half of his alleged bitcoin holdings, as well as pay the plaintiff's attorney fees and any other related expenses.
Although Wright had initially agreed to a settlement that would see him hand over half the bitcoin held in the Tulip Trust, the court proceeding recommenced when he pulled out of the non-binding agreement in November.
See the full document below:
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.