Craig Steven Wright

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Craig Steven Wright
Born October 1970 (age 47)[1]
Brisbane, Australia
Nationality Australian
Alma mater Charles Sturt University
Occupation Computer scientist
Website twitter.com/proffaustus

Craig Steven Wright (born October 1970)[2] is an Australian computer scientist and businessman. He has publicly identified himself as the main part of the team that created bitcoin, and has claimed he is the identity behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The BBC, The Economist, Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen say that he has signed messages with private keys known to have been controlled by Satoshi Nakamoto in a demonstration, though Andresen would later express skepticism over the validity of the demonstration.[3] The Economist, GQ Magazine and others in the bitcoin world have said that this demonstration could have been stage-managed or that the people present at these demonstrations could have been bamboozled.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Wright graduated from high school in 1987 from Padua College in Brisbane.[10] Wright was an adjunct academic in computer science[11] and researcher at Charles Sturt University, where he was working on his second PhD entitled "The quantification of information systems risk".[12][13][14][15] He completed 18 SANS Institute courses and was the world's first person to receive GIAC certification in Compliance and Audits,[16] and was a SANS Institute Mentor.[17] He holds GSEMalware and GSECompliance certifications, among others, from GIAC.[18][19][20]

Wright says his PhD is in theology, comparative religious and classical studies, was achieved in 2003 with a dissertation titled "Gnarled roots of a creation theory".[21][10] Wright has claimed to have a PhD in computer science from Charles Sturt University on his LinkedIn profile. But the university told Forbes that it only awarded him two master's degrees and not a doctorate.[22]

Wright has written or co-written several books, including The IT Regulatory and Standards Compliance Handbook: How to Survive Information Systems Audit and Assessments.[23] Wright has been a trustee of the Uniting Church in New South Wales.[10][24][25]

Career and businesses[edit]

Wright worked in information technology for various companies, including OzEmail, K-Mart and the Australian Securities Exchange,[16] as well as working as a security consultant for Mahindra & Mahindra.[26][27] He designed the architecture for possibly the world's first online casino, Lasseter's Online (based in Alice Springs, Northern Territory), which went online in 1999.[28][29][30][31] He was the information systems manager for the accounting firm BDO Kendalls.[16][32][33]

In 2004, Wright was convicted of contempt of court by the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He was sentenced to 28 days in jail for breaching an injunction that prevented him from approaching customers of DeMorgan Information Security Systems, from which he resigned in 2003. The sentence was suspended on condition of performing 250 hours of community service. After appealing the decision, the ruling was upheld in 2005 and also in a subsequent appeal to the High Court of Australia in 2006.[34][35]

Wright was the CEO of the technology firm Hotwire Preemptive Intelligence Group (Hotwire PE),[36][37][38] which planned to launch Denariuz Bank, the world's first bitcoin-based bank, though it encountered regulatory difficulties with the Australian Tax Office and failed in 2014.[39][40] Wright is the founder of cryptocurrency company DeMorgan Ltd., which received $54 million AUD in tax incentives via AusIndustry.[41][42][43] He is also the founder of the cybersecurity and computer forensics company Panopticrypt Pty Ltd.[44][45][46]

Bitcoin[edit]

In December 2015, two parallel investigations by Wired and Gizmodo alleged that Wright may have been the inventor of bitcoin.[47][48] Subsequent reporting, however, raised serious concerns that Wright was engaged in an elaborate hoax.[49][50][51]

Hours after Wired published their allegations, Wright's home in Gordon, New South Wales and an associated business premise in Ryde, Sydney were raided by the Australian Federal Police.[52][53][54][55] According to the AFP, the raid was part of an Australian Tax Office investigation.[56][57]

On 2 May 2016, The BBC and The Economist published articles claiming that Craig had digitally signed messages using cryptographic keys created during the early days of bitcoin's development. The keys are inextricably linked to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created or "mined" by Satoshi Nakamoto. Jon Matonis, in a blog post,[58] stated "For cryptographic proof in my presence, Craig signed and verified a message using the private key from block #1 newly-generated coins and from block #9 newly-generated coins (the first transaction to Hal Finney)." Gavin Andresen said that he performed a careful cryptographic verification of messages signed, [by Craig], with keys that only Satoshi should possess.[59]

The same day a blog post on the website www.drcraigwright.net associated Craig with Satoshi and posted a message with a cryptographic signature attached.[60][61][62][63] Security researcher Dan Kaminsky said in his blog that Wright's claim was a scam and bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik agreed that evidence publicly provided by Wright does not prove anything.[6] Jordan Pearson and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai said that, "Wright simply reused an old signature from a bitcoin transaction performed in 2009 by Satoshi."[6]

Afterwards, Wright said that he decided not to present any further evidence to prove that he is the creator of bitcoin. In a message posted on his website, Wright wrote:

I believed that I could do this. I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot. When the rumours began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this. I know that this weakness will cause great damage to those that have supported me, and particularly to Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen. I can only hope that their honour and credibility is not irreparably tainted by my actions. They were not deceived, but I know that the world will never believe that now. I can only say I’m sorry. And goodbye.[64]

Earlier in an exclusive interview with the BBC, Wright had promised to give "extraordinary proof to an extraordinary claim."[65] He has yet to provide any verifiable evidence of his authorship of the original Satoshi whitepaper or collaboration with known early developers and refuses, or is unable, to provide the one piece of evidence which would prove his claim, the original Satoshi Nakamoto GPG private key.[66][67] On Thursday 5 May 2016 shortly before closing his blog, Wright sent around an email link to a news story site saying "Craig Wright faces criminal charges and serious jail time in UK". Wright stated that "I am the source of terrorist funds as bitcoin creator or I am a fraud to the world. At least a fraud is able to see his family. There is nothing I can do."[68]

In June 2016, the London Review of Books published an article by Andrew O'Hagan about the events, based on his book "The Secret Life: Three True Stories" in which O'Hagan spends several weeks with Wright at the request of Wright's public relations team; which, as revealed in the book, was set up as a result of a business deal between Wright and various individuals including Calvin Ayre after bitcoin was created. All of those involved in the described business deal seemed to agree that they wanted a significant event in human history to be documented by a writer with complete impartiality and freedom to investigate. O'Hagan was with Wright during the time of his various media interviews. O'Hagan also interviews Wright's wife, colleagues and many of the other people involved in his claims.[68][69][70] It also reveals that the Canadian company nTrust was behind Wright's claim made in May 2016 (perhaps referencing nTrust as being the same entity which created the public relations team for Wright). Further, O'Hagan notes the claim that Wright provided an invalid private key because he was legally unable to provide the valid one as a result of legal obligations agreed as part of a Seychelles trust deal previously reached. O'Hagan's book also corroborates the suggestion that both Wright and David Kleiman were the identies of the moniker "Satoshi Nakamoto".

Following O'Hagan's article, BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones (who interviewed Wright on camera for the BBC) wrote a follow up article citing O'Hagan's account as the possible reasons for Wright's apparent unwillingness to declare himself as Nakamoto:

To me, the key revelation is about this motivation.

He had told the BBC that he had not wanted to come out into the spotlight but needed to dispel damaging rumours affecting his family, friends and colleagues.

But O'Hagan shows us something rather different - a man under intense pressure from business associates who stood to profit from him if he could be shown to be Nakamoto.[71]

This is in reference to O'Hagan's first hand account which describes business associates as being furious when they learned that Wright had provided invalid proof (despite showing them valid proof privately) and for his failure to disclose the details of the Seychelles Trust deal which meant that he could neither provide said proof publicly or yet gain access to the bitcoin attributed to Nakamoto. Cellan-Jones concludes his article by expressing doubts about the claimed extent of Wright's involvement but admits "It seems very likely he was involved, perhaps as part of a team that included Dave Kleiman and Hal Finney, the recipient of the first transaction with the currency."

Financial cryptographer Ian Grigg[72] describes the events as follows:[73][74][75][76][77]

Craig Wright has just outed himself as the leader of the Satoshi Nakamoto team. I confirm that this is true, both from direct knowledge and a base of evidence.

Grigg mentions David Kleiman as another member of the Satoshi Nakamoto team.

New Liberty Dollar issuer Joseph VaughnPerling says he met Wright at a conference in Amsterdam three years before publication of the bitcoin white paper and that Wright introduced himself as Satoshi Nakamoto at that time.[78][79]

Legal issues[edit]

In February 2018 the estate of Dave Kleiman initiated a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Wright over the rights to $5,118,266,427.50 worth of bitcoin claiming that Wright defrauded Kleiman of bitcoins and intellectual property rights.[80][81][82]

References[edit]

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