After Day 8 of the Satoshi Nakamoto civil trial adjourned early due to a juror feeling feverish last week, there is a question of whether or not the schedule will push through as planned if the juror tests positive for COVID-19.
On Monday, Judge Beth Bloom announced that the Kleiman v Wright trial will proceed as scheduled as the juror has tested negative for the virus. With this update, the court session continues on with Wright testifying for the plaintiff for the fourth day.
The plaintiff in this case is the David Kleiman estate represented by his brother Ira Kleiman, while the defendant is computer scientist Craig Wright.
Ira Kleiman is claiming that David Kleiman and Wright co-wrote the Bitcoin white paper as partners in the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto and were business partners in W&K Info Defense Research, LLC, through which they mined 1.1 million Bitcoin now valued at nearly $70 billion.
The plaintiff is demanding at least $11.5 billion or up to half of the 1.1 million Bitcoin allegedly in Wright’s possession being Satoshi Nakamoto, with the addition of punitive damages, clarified during Monday’s court session, which started off the third week of trial.
On the other side, Wright and his defense are arguing that there is no evidence of any kind of partnership between David Kleiman and Wright that directly relates to the writing of the Bitcoin white paper, as well as the mining of the said 1.1 million coins.
The Burden of Proof
The plaintiff is heavily burdened in proving its allegations given that David Kleiman died of a MRSA infection in April 2013, and more importantly, Ira Kleiman had conveniently reformatted and erased his brother’s laptops and hard drives because his wife needed a laptop. Ira Kleiman also allegedly gave away David Kleiman’s cell phone.
Ira Kleiman’s actions are suspicious in that he did not think at all to preserve David Kleiman’s life work as a computer forensics expert that might have been stored in the more than 10 hard and thumb drives that came into his possession after his brother’s death.
There are also some missing hard drives that were supposedly in the possession of Patrick Paige, David Kleiman’s best friend and partner in computer forensic business, who was also sued by Ira Kleiman in his hunt for what he believes to be his brother’s missing Bitcoin. That lawsuit has ended with an amicable settlement, while the hard drives in question have not been returned or entered into evidence. Patrick Paige happened to be an early witness for the plaintiff in the case which seems a bit odd after being sued by Ira.
Wright’s testimony for the plaintiff, which lasted four days, appears to be successful in balancing out the plaintiff’s allegations, confidently answering and explaining to the jury what he means.
A document stating that 573,500 Bitcoin has been transferred from David Kleiman to Wright is probably the most compelling evidence that the plaintiff has against Wright. But Wright explained that David Kleiman had agreed to help him take control of his assets in order for them not to be touched by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which was allegedly on a “witch hunt” that did not stop until Wright moved his family out of Australia.
“Dave helped me act as a front, a sham as the ATO called it. So, it looked like he ran all my companies… the Australian Taxation office almost bankrupt me and became the owner of Bitcoin’s IP,” Wright said during his November 10 testimony.
As Wright points out, having control of an asset does not also signify ownership. Furthermore, David Kleiman’s help as Wright stated can be corroborated by the fact that he has not asserted his rights on any of Wright’s assets or Bitcoin, as well as claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, when he was still alive.
Over a hundred emails and documents, which includes the ATO ones Wright claims to be invalid as he has won all cases the ATO has filed against him, have already been presented. Yet, there has been no business partnership agreement between Wright and David Kleiman that has been shown that directly relates to the two mining the Satoshi coins together.
There is also no evidence of emails between the two talking about creating Bitcoin or writing the Bitcoin white paper together, except for one where Wright is asking for some editing help. And as everyone knows, an editor is vastly different from an author.
Destroying Wright’s Credibility
Due to the glaring lack of evidence, it seems that the plaintiff is set on establishing Wright as a “multi-billionaire” serial forger, and day 9 of the Kleiman v Wright trial has largely been devoted to this.
Pieces of evidence asserting that Wright is a multi-billionaire came into focus as it is something the jury should know when it will be time to decide the amount of punitive damages they will grant the plaintiff—if they will decide to do so.
After plaintiff legal counsel Vel Freedman has asked Wright if he has forged numerous emails, with Wright answering that he has never forged an email in his life, Wright’s testimony for the plaintiff finally ended. He will be called again to the stand for the defense which decided not to cross examine him at preferring to speed up the plaintiff’s in resting their case.
The plaintiff also called on their last witness, Dr. Matthew Edman, a former contractor of the FBI who had helped take down Silk Road. Dr. Edman has testified that “My findings are that many of the documents [from Dr. Wright] were not authentic.”
It seems that the plaintiff’s strategy is to discredit Wright’s testimony to the jury in attempting to prove that he forged the documents and emails in question, and that all in all, he is not a trustworthy person whose words should be believed.
This may also drive the plaintiff’s point across to the jury that Wright was capable of stealing his best friend’s Bitcoin and claiming the credit for inventing Bitcoin all to himself. However, even if someone is proven to be capable of stealing, that still does not prove that someone has stolen something.
The defense is expected to cross-examine Dr. Edman on Tuesday and call in their first expert witness, Kevin Madura, who is a senior vice president at cybersecurity firm AlixPartners.