Craig Wright's Tulip Trading Must Prove Ownership of Bitcoin in Hacking Case, English Court Rules

The hearing, scheduled to take 15 days, will also seek to determine whether the alleged hack occurred.

AccessTimeIconDec 7, 2023 at 3:59 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 1:53 a.m. UTC

Craig Wright's Tulip Trading needs to prove ownership of some 110,000 bitcoins (BTC) that are at the center of a case against a group of bitcoin developers filed in 2021, an English court document shows.

In that case, the developers are fighting Tulip's lawsuit alleging they wrongfully refused to help Wright's company retrieve billions of dollars worth of bitcoin it allegedly lost in a hack. In a preliminary trial, the court will be looking to determine whether Tulip does own the bitcoin, according to a High Court of England and Wales order posted on the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund website. The order is dated Nov. 15.

Wright, who has long claimed he is bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto – a claim long met with widespread skepticism – sued the developers for refusing to build a backdoor mechanism to help Tulip Trading retrieve the coins it claimed to have owned and lost. The case was originally dismissed in March 2022, but reinstated on appeal.

"Mr. Wright now not only needs to prove that he owns the bitcoin for the claim to proceed, he must also pay security for the developers’ costs of doing so," Timothy Elliss, a partner at Enyo Law, which represents most of the defendants, said in an email.

The preliminary trial, which is scheduled to take 15 days, will also seek to determine whether the alleged hack occurred and, if so, whether it deprived Tulip Trading of the private keys that controlled the bitcoin, among other issues.

The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund is an organization funded by, among others, Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter (now X), Bluesky and Block (formerly Square).

CoinDesk reached out to Tulip's law firm Shoosmith for comment. Enyo Law said documents related to the case could be retrieved from the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund website.

UPDATE (Dec. 8, 10:02 UTC): Adds defendants' lawyer's comment in fourth paragraph.

Edited by Sheldon Reback and Marc Hochstein.


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Camomile Shumba

Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk regulatory reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.