A year-long lawsuit over an alleged $10 billion Bitcoin fortune has finally come to an end—for now.
Following yesterday’s court hearing in a dispute between the estate of deceased computer scientist Dave Kleiman and his former business partner, the self-professed inventor of Bitcoin Craig Wright, the court has entered documents into the record that confirm earlier reports of the judge’s ruling against Wright.
In those documents filed today, Judge Bruce E. Reinhart sums it up like this: “I have found that Dr. Wright intentionally submitted fraudulent documents to the Court, obstructed a judicial proceeding, and gave perjurious testimony.”
As a result, Judge Reinhart is recommending that the court award 50 percent of Wright’s Bitcoin holdings mined prior to December 31, 2013 to the Kleiman estate. In his ruling, Reinhart established that “Wright and Dave Kleiman entered into a 50/50 partnership to develop bitcoin intellectual property and to mine bitcoin.” He also found that any “bitcoin-related intellectual property developed by Dr. Wright prior to David Kleiman’s death was property of the partnership.”
In short, the judge ruled that “all bitcoin mined by Dr. Wright prior to David Kleiman’s death was property of the partnership when mined,” and that the Kleiman family, represented by Dave’s brother Ira, has a rightful interest in the “partnership’s bitcoin,” along with additional assets.
Kleiman has until September 20, 2019 to submit an official request for total legal fees and other assorted costs and assets owed to the Kleiman estate. The court will then decide on “an award of reasonable expenses,” according to the court’s order. While Wright cannot oppose the decision, he has the right to appeal and can state whether he feels an evidentiary hearing is necessary.
It’s worth noting that the court’s ruling as part of the contempt hearing is merely a “recommendation” that must still be adopted by District Judge Beth Bloom. But, barring something dramatic, it does appear that this case is finally coming to a close.
Ira Kleiman originally filed the lawsuit against Wright over a year ago, alleging that Wright has worked to block the Kleiman family from 1.1 million bitcoins—worth more than $11 billion at today’s prices—that were mined jointly by both Wright and Dave Kleiman.
Wright’s defense was built largely around the premise that Kleiman, just prior to his death, had relinquished his claim to any bitcoin that the duo mined together. Wright introduced, and then later withdrew, an alleged email from Kleiman to support his claim, which a computer-forensic expert for the Kleiman estate characterized as fraudulent.
Wright also maintained throughout the discovery proceedings that he is unable to produce a full accounting of his bitcoin holdings, because the bitcoin is held in blind trusts that are allegedly inaccessible to him.
In the end, the judge didn’t buy any of it: “There was substantial credible evidence that documents produced by Dr. Wright to support his position in this litigation are fraudulent,” he said.