Court freezes Craig Wright’s assets amid Satoshi Nakamoto dispute

A UK judge has sanctioned a worldwide freezing order on £6 million ($7.6 million) of assets belonging to Australian computer scientist Craig Wright.

This decision follows a court ruling that Wright, who had claimed to be the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, was not the author of the Bitcoin white paper nor the developer of the initial Bitcoin software. The case was brought against Wright by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA).

The court’s decision came in the wake of Wright’s asset relocation efforts following a ruling that discredited his claim to the identity of Nakamoto. Documents reveal Wright transferred shares from his London-based company, RCJBR Holding, to a Singaporean entity on March 18. This action triggered alarm over potential evasion of financial liabilities incurred from the trial’s outcome.

Judge James Mellor highlighted the necessity of the freezing order to secure funds for covering the Crypto Open Patent Alliance’s (COPA) legal expenses, which total roughly $8,471,225 (£6,703,747.91). Mellor recognized COPA as the prevailing party in the litigation, deeming them “highly likely” to be awarded costs.

Mellor noted, “Understandably, that gave rise to serious concerns on COPA’s part that Dr Wright was implementing measures to seek to evade the costs consequences of his loss at trial.”

The legal battle against Wright was initiated by COPA in April 2021, contesting his claims of being Nakamoto and asserting copyright over Bitcoin. The case drew on testimonies from early Bitcoin contributors, leading to a March 14 ruling that found “overwhelming” evidence against Wright’s claims of being the digital currency’s inventor.

Last month saw pivotal testimony from Adam Back, a pioneer of Bitcoin’s proof-of-work consensus system, and Martti Malmi, an early Bitcoin contributor, during a trial involving claims about the cryptocurrency’s creation. Both Back and Malmi contested statements made by Wright in his testimony, arguing against his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto.