USD 100M Jury Verdict in Craig Wright Case Brings More Confusion
The man known to many of his detractors as “Faketoshi” – the Australian computer scientist Craig Wright – has been celebrating victory after he was forced to pay USD 100m in damages by a jury in Miami. His 'win' has been questioned by the wider crypto community and some legal professionals, as well as denied by the plaintiff's lawyers – who also claim victory.
Wright, whose lawyers told the court he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the author of the Bitcoin white paper, had been fighting claims he stole bitcoin (BTC) from his former friend (or alleged business partner) Dave Kleiman. The latter died in 2013, but the case was brought forward by Kleiman’s brother.
But, despite the jury’s order, Wright appeared to claim a total victory – and even a vindication.
Bloomberg reported that “had the jury’s verdict gone against Wright, that would have forced him to produce the Satoshi fortune” of some BTC 1.1bn. “To some observers,” the media outlet noted, “that would have been the true test.”
Wright said he had no intention of appealing the verdict, and was quoted as stating:
“I have never been so relieved in my life. The jury has obviously found that I am [Satoshi], because there would have been no award otherwise. And I am.”
The media outlet also quoted Andres Rivero, Wright’s lawyer, as calling the verdict a “complete victory” for Wright, and stating:
“The plaintiffs were claiming USD 600 billion plus punitives. This is one of the most resounding victories ever in American litigation. We had crushed them. Their result is less than any settlement offer we ever made to them. This is a total loss for the other side.”
But despite all the positivity for Wright and his legal camp, the Kleiman legal team bristled at the suggestion that “Faketoshi” had “won” anything.
The lawyer Vel Freedman wrote on Twitter that the Wright team was spreading “lies,” adding:
“It’s come to my attention that Andres Rivero is claiming the USD 100M verdict finding his client is a thief, was a win. That’s hilarious. I wish him many more such ‘wins.’ He’s also falsely claiming they offered more to settle the case.”
Freedman’s partner Kyle Roche, meanwhile, stated that Rivero was “lying to the press,” and wrote:
“The verdict the jury returned is higher than any settlement offer Craig ever made. Just like his client, Andres seems to be more comfortable lying than confronting the truth.”
The legal battle may be over, but it appears the Twitter fight has just begun - with some giving their support to Wright, and more commenters questioning Wright's 'win'.
While the arch-Wright advocate Calvin Ayre claimed that “the jury was clear, they believe Craig is solely Satoshi” and that the verdict was “a total loss for [the] plaintiff,” the Anderson Kill partner Stephen Palley smarted at the suggestion, writing:
“To be clear, the jury didn’t decide that Craig is Satoshi. It wasn’t asked this question and this was never an issue for the jury to decide and there’s no precedent that this case creates for others. That isn’t how this works.”
He also provided court documents to back up his claim.
However, there was also some concern expressed by the fact that the USD 100m damages will not be paid directly to the Kleiman estate, however. The jury agreed that Wright had committed a “breach in intellectual property rights” related to W&K Info Defense Research, the company that was founded by Kleiman and Wright. The money instead will be paid to W&K.
CNBC quoted W&K’s lawyers as stating:
“We are immensely gratified that our client has won [USD] 100,000,000 reflecting that Craig Wright wrongfully took bitcoin-related assets from W&K.”
But others have pointed out that Kleiman was in fact a minority owner of W&K, with Wright and his wife owning the lion’s share of the company.
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