Bitcoin trial: Defendant wins, keeps Bitcoins worth $50B

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Computer scientist Craig Wright, who claims to be the inventor of bitcoin, on Monday won a highly publicized test that would allow him to hold onto a hoard of bitcoins worth tens of billions of dollars.

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A Florida jury found that half of the 1.1 million bitcoins Wright owned did not belong to the family of David Kleiman, Wright’s one-time business partner.

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The overarching case was highly technical, with the jury hearing an explanation of the complex workings of cryptocurrencies as well as unclear origins about the origins of bitcoin. The jurors took a full week to deliberate, repeatedly asking lawyers for both sides as well as the judges questions about how cryptocurrencies work as well as the business relationship between the two men.

At the center of the test are 1.1 million bitcoins, worth around $50 billion based on Monday’s prices. These were among the first bitcoins to be created through mining and could have been owned by an individual or entity associated with the digital currency since its inception.

The origins of bitcoin have always been a mystery, which is why this test has attracted so much attention from outsiders. In October 2008, during the height of the financial crisis, a man named “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper outlining a framework for a digital currency that would not be tied to any legal or sovereign authority. Mining for the currency began a few months later.

The name Nakamoto, which roughly translates from Japanese, means “in the center”, was never thought to be the actual name of the creator of bitcoin. Some in the cryptocurrency community don’t even believe that Nakamoto was a single person.

Wright has claimed since 2016 that he is Nakamoto, a claim that has been met with skepticism from a large section of the cryptocurrency community. Because of its structure, all bitcoin transactions are public and the 1.1 million bitcoins in question have remained untouched since Wright’s major disclosure. Members of the bitcoin community have regularly asked Wright to transfer a fraction of the coins to a separate account in order to record that he is actually as rich as he claims.

David Kleiman died in April 2013. Led by his brother Ira Kleiman, his family has claimed that David Kleiman and Wright were close friends and co-created bitcoin through a partnership. Kleiman’s estate was sued for half the bitcoins as well as intellectual property rights.

Wright’s lawyers have repeatedly stated that David Kleiman and Wright were friends and worked together, but that their partnership had nothing to do with the creation or initial operation of bitcoin.

Wright has said that he plans to donate most of his bitcoin assets to charity if he wants to win the lawsuit.

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