Craig Wright Must Pay $516K to Pursue Case Against Kraken, Coinbase: UK Judge

Wright claims he’s Bitcoin White Paper author Satoshi Nakamoto and holds intellectual property rights on numerous cryptocurrencies

AccessTimeIconJul 26, 2023 at 8:28 a.m. UTC
Updated Jul 26, 2023 at 9:54 a.m. UTC

Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist who claims he is blockchain innovator Satoshi Nakamoto and owns the concepts underpinning Bitcoin, must pay 400,000 British pounds ($516,000) in security for legal costs to pursue claims against crypto exchanges Coinbase and Kraken.

James Mellor, a judge at the England and Wales High Court, said he wasn’t convinced Wright would be able to fund legal costs, pointing to previous allegedly inconsistent statements about Wright’s financial position in a judgment issued Tuesday.

The evidence “does not persuade me” that Wright or his investment company have liquid assets to meet potentially substantial legal costs, Mellor said, adding that he’ll strike out the action within weeks if security isn’t put in place.

Wright says he owns the goodwill in the term “Bitcoin,” and that Coinbase and Kraken, by allowing trading in bitcoin (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH), are damaging the brand of rival cryptocurrency bitcoin satoshi vision (BSV).

Mellor cited statements made by Wright that he had made himself financially “untouchable” by using a trust to shift assets and testimony allegedly inconsistent with that given in parallel U.S. court proceedings involving former business partner Ira Kleiman.

In a Florida case due to be heard later Wednesday, Wright is due to defend himself against charges he should be held in contempt of court for failing to fully disclose information needed to resolve a dispute with Kleiman’s estate over the ownership of $143 million in cryptocurrency. Wright has argued he doesn’t have financial information about his wife Ramona Ang and that his own witness statements filed in UK courts constitute “hearsay.”

In October, an Oslo court ruled Twitter user Hodlonaut had been within his rights to post 2019 tweets calling Wright a "fraud" and "scammer” for saying he was Nakamoto, author of the 2008 Bitcoin White Paper. An appeal of that case will be heard later this year.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Kraken told CoinDesk that the ruling “is an important win in our defense against Wright’s claims to control Bitcoin.”

“Satoshi never meant for a single person to control Bitcoin, which is why he released the Bitcoin software under open-source licenses for the world’s benefit,” the spokesperson said.

Coinbase and lawyers for Wright did not immediately respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.