Craig Wright, who has claimed to be the founder of Bitcoin, has shown “prima facie evidence” of contemptuous conduct in court proceedings for failing to correctly provide information linked to $143 million in disputed cryptocurrency, a U.S. judge said in a ruling published Friday.
Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart issued the ruling as a case grinds on between Wright, who claims to be Satoshi Nakomoto, the pseudonymous author of the 2008 Bitcoin white paper, and Ira Kleiman, who claimed rights to crypto he said was mined by his late brother David.
In 2022, a judge found in favor of Kleiman and linked company W&K. But W&K says Wright never fully provided the personal information needed to enforce the payment, and has asked the court to conduct contempt of court proceedings, and impose fines of $250,000 per day.
“On the present record, there is prima facie evidence of contemptuous conduct,” Reinhart said in response to that request, saying Wright had “refused to provide basic information about his spouse and her assets” on the form.
Wright’s claim that the form should be kept for attorney’s eyes only to avoid revealing sensitive personal data “is factually false…the designation was improper from the beginning,” Reinhart said.
The form, now unsealed by Reinhart, gives Satoshi Nakomoto as Wright’s nickname or alias, and states that his assets have been transferred or assigned to others.
Wright and his attorneys have until May 18 to show why they should not face a sanction for seeking to keep information confidential, under legal provisions designed to stop unreasonable or vexatious inflation of court costs. A further hearing on July 6 in Palm Beach, Florida, will consider the facts linked to the alleged non-compliance.
Wright – who has argued the information he provided on the form was accurate, but that he is unable or legally restricted from providing some of the data requested – will be given a further opportunity to make that case, Reinhart said.
In April, a judge at the High Court in England ruled it wasn’t in the public interest to continue to pursue contempt of court proceedings against Wright even if there was, at first sight, evidence that he had revealed details of a judgment before it was supposed to be published.
In December, Wright was granted permission to appeal a Norwegian court’s finding that social media user Magnus Granath, also known as Hodlonaut, had been entitled to post tweets in 2019 calling Wright a “fraud” and a “scammer” for his claim to be Sastoshi.
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. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.