COPA v Wright: Satoshi emerges from week one fully intact

 4 months ago
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COPA v Wright: Satoshi emerges from week one fully intact

Business 9 hours ago

Five days into trial, perhaps the biggest surprise of COPA v Wright’s opening week is that it saw very little of the explosive anger or verbal jousting that many had imagined for a trial which has the future of the digital asset industry as its stakes.

Through four days on the stand, there have been few cracks to be found in Dr. Craig Wright’s cool exterior as he firmly but politely batted away barbed questioning from Jonathan Hough KC, the COPA barrister charged with Dr. Wright’s cross-examination. Even Hough himself is well-mannered and restrained, content to allow Dr. Wright’s answers speak for themselves when necessary and doing the occasional probing.

Good manners and courtroom cordiality can only go so far to distract from the seriousness of the allegations COPA has spent the week throwing at Dr. Wright, however. The Alliance’s barrister has tried to paint a picture of Dr. Wright as a serial forger, continually editing and tinkering with documents from after Bitcoin was released to the world in order to make them appear as though they came from before. These documents are anything from old snippets of pre-release Bitcoin code bearing Dr. Wright’s name, to corporate documents to Dr Wright’s companies showing the massive transfer of Bitcoin from one entity to another in 2011, to various early drafts of the Bitcoin White Paper.

If COPA expected putting these forgery allegations to Dr. Wright to be a walk in the park, they were mistaken. That could have been obvious to them from as early as the first day of Dr. Wright’s cross examination, when they began reading from expert reports which they say find that many of the documents which Dr. Wright relies on in his defence. No doubt, an experienced litigator like Hough KC is used to the words of independent experts being treated as nigh unimpeachable by the poor soul standing across from him in the witness box.

There was fat chance of that happening with Dr. Wright, whose pantheon of degrees and certifications support an air of confidence and absolute security in his own technical knowledge. In other words, if an expert proposition is put to Dr. Wright, it had better be iron-clad.

Unfortunately for COPA, iron-clad these allegations were not. Allegation after allegation was swatted down by Dr. Wright, using explanations so technical that Hough KC had little choice but to gracefully pause, remove and reset his glasses, cough and move on.

As impressive as these ripostes have been, perhaps of even greater surprise is the readiness with which Dr. Wright can accept an actually forged document is indeed forged. Beginning on Thursday, Hough KC put a series of manipulated documents to Dr. Wright—many of which, like those discussed above, appear to offer significant support to Dr. Wright’s claim to have invented Bitcoin. Only for many of these documents, Dr. Wright not only happily conceded the forgeries, but offered details explanations for who forged them and why.

Take for example a supposed 2008 email from Dr. Wright to Dave Kleiman, where he asks for help with a paper he’s writing on peer to peer electronic cash—Bitcoin. The email will be familiar to those who followed the Kleiman litigation, as when it was presented there it resulted in a rather hilarious slam-dunk moment for Wright: there, too, he was accused of having forged the email, which then displayed as having been sent from Dr. Wright’s @RCJBR domain. Only that acronym refers to Dr. Wright’s children from a marriage that didn’t exist before 2011. The email was indeed a forgery—but the one person on the planet it could not credibly be said to have come from is Dr. Wright.

COPA walked into a similar trap here, showing multiple versions of the 2008 email including the @RCJBR one. Once it sunk in to anyone watching that—as Dr. Wright explained to Hough KC—the RCJBR email could not have been forged by him, the other versions of the email being presented by COPA as Dr. Wright forgeries begin to look shabby.

This is particularly so considering Dr. Wright has a fairly well-defined list of suspects for who is really responsible for the manipulations. One of the 2008 emails, for instance, show that someone with a Brisbane IP address did the manipulating. This, of course, refers to Jamie Wilson, an ex-CFO of Dr. Wright’s companies in Australia who Dr. Wright has said in this case and others was dismissed for attempting to embezzle money from him. Wilson’s offices are just a stone’s throw from the Brisbane suburb which is home to the IP address and it has been confirmed that Wilson used the same ISP that the IP address originated from.

That’s not new, but this week Dr. Wright took his chance to expound on the extent to which he was being betrayed, hacked and set up by his employees. He said that Wilson, long after being fired, wrote false declarations in order to assign patents that Dr. Wright had worked on to him in exchange for nothing at all. Records of what appear to be these patents are public. They record Jamie Wilson taken a cryptographic patent bearing both his and Dr. Wright’s name and assigning it to one of his own companies. The agreements assigning these patents are apparently signed by Wilson and Wright, and even had a witness—Jamie Wilson’s own wife. It’s tough to imagine someone like Dr. Wright, who is legally trained and a stickler for detail, accepting such a document being witnessed by Wilson’s own wife, but that’s what Wilson would have us believe.

In light of that, it’s fairly easy to believe the rest of Dr. Wright’s story: that Wilson then began feeding documents taken from Dr. Wright’s companies to Ira Kleiman, either manipulating them alongside other disgruntled staff or letting Kleiman do it himself.

That he’s willing to go into such detail in order to debunk evidence that would undoubtedly support his case to be Satoshi—such as asking a friend for help editing the Bitcoin white paper before it was ever released—no doubt will leave an impression on Judge Mellor, who has broken his carefully practised poker face only a couple of times for a polite smile at Dr. Wright.

On the last day of court in the opening week, COPA appeared to finally have exhausted its accusations of forgery and had begun laying the foundation for the next part of its case: picking apart the details of Dr. Wright’s biography and life story to see if they can find some detail to grab onto in order to show that Dr. Wright cannot be Satoshi Nakamoto. COPA will pick up where it left off on Monday—only this time in the (hopefully) much cooler Courtroom 26.

Check out all of the CoinGeek’s special reports on the Satoshi Trial (COPA v Wright).

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.

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