In a blistering 39-page ruling, federal Judge Beth Bloom outlines a pattern of Craig Wright making allegedly misleading and perjurious statements as well as presenting forged or false evidence, but rules against sanctioning him. She specifically—and repeatedly—stated that his autism is a deciding factor.
Wright is being sued for half of a $10 billion cache of bitcoins widely believed to have been mined by the pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto at the beginning of the Bitcoin project.
[Editor’s Note: Many in the cryptocurrency community believe Wright does not have access to that fortune, as he is not Nakamoto.]
The new sanctions were requested by the attorneys for Ira Kleiman, who is suing Wright as heir to his late brother Dave Kleiman, Wright’s long-time friend and partner.
This request, before Judge Bloom of the federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, is separate from a previous judgement from Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart saying that Craig Wright’s word is worthless.
In both cases the sanctions requested amounted to a summary judgement against Wright, in which he would be ordered to turn over half of the 1.1 million bitcoins mined by pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, and half of the Bitcoin intellectual property, without a trial. In both cases Judge Bloom refused.
[Editor’s Note: After fighting off an attempted subpoena to testify and try over reporting notes, Brendan Sullivan was forced to make a declaration attesting to the accuracy of an article printed in Modern Consensus in which he exclusively interviewed Wright minutes after Magistrate Judge Reinhart’s initial sanctions recommendation.]
“To be sure,” Judge Bloom wrote, “Plaintiffs depict unsettling issues that cast doubt regarding whether, since the Objections Order was entered in early January 2020, Defendant has committed perjury, produced forgeries, and engaged in judicial abuse.” But Bloom declined to rule on any connection between these missteps and a pattern of willful misbehavior.
“Defendant, however, stresses that he has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, and thus his testimony needs to be evaluated in that light.”
Wright and wrong
The entire order is worth a read as a summary of the entire case against Craig Wright. It is a masterclass in making difficult decisions. Bloom completely outlines every instance that the Kleiman estate claims proves perjury or forgery. However, she does not say that this collection of confusing and contradictory claims constitutes outright fraud.
“For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied,” Judge Bloom wrote on page one before ruling against the plaintiff.
Bloom also noted the futility of reading into some random bitcoin to see who “owns” it.
“Further, [Wright] argues that bitcoin containing a ‘Satoshi fingerprint’ pattern cannot be used to prove Dave Kleiman was [part of] Satoshi Nakamoto because ‘mining is an anonymous activity’ and there is ‘no way of knowing who mined that bitcoin.’”
Bloom not only sided with the defense, but sprinkles her ruling with its wording of correctly formulated arguments. “The Response proceeds to show that ‘[n]ot every shadow is a monster,’ and that the evidence Plaintiffs rely upon are not ‘even forgeries in the first place[.]’”
In general, Bloom chose to give Wright the benefit of the doubt. For example, Although a document claiming to be from 2011 appears to cite a law that wasn’t enacted until 2013, Bloom agrees that this could easily be an error or typo and thus not an intentional fraud.
“Defendant argues that although the W&K operating agreement, allegedly executed in February 2011, references the Florida Revised Limited Liability Company Act, which was not enacted until June 2013, Plaintiffs ‘fail to consider that the ‘Florida Limited Liability Company Act,’ (i.e., without the ‘revised’) did exist when the document purports to have been drafted.’ Thus, Defendant submits that it is “entirely possible that the document contains a miscite,’ and as such it is not clear and convincing evidence of fraud.”
“Miscite” is an underused term (and weird genre of rock music!) meaning that a fact or figure is cited from a bibliographical source, however the information in that citation is incorrect for any number of reasons.
What the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.
When it comes to the so-called Tulip Trust Wright has said contains the private keys needed to unlock 1.1 million bitcoins, Bloom was also forgiving in the name of autism.
“Defendant argues that his Notice of Compliance provided Plaintiffs with ‘precisely the information they demanded—a list of what [Defendant] believes to be bitcoin that he mined prior to December 31, 2013.’ He notes that ‘while the Notice of Compliance could have been clearer as to the exact circumstances of how defendant received the list of bitcoin, it does not follow that defendant intentionally set out to deceive this Court, especially when one considers defendant’s autism diagnosis.’”
Here’s what I know from years of interviewing Craig Wright: he has an uncanny ability to answer your question to the letter and he leaves it up to you to sort out what he means. Often the real answer is staring you in the face and you can’t see it.
Judge Bloom cited Tarasewicz v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd from 2016, which states, “Although Plaintiff’s [cognitive] impairment does not explain every inconsistent statement, it undermines Defendants’ argument that the inconsistencies were the product of a deliberate scheme to defraud the court.”
The intent is what sells it. Judge Bloom agreed that turning over a document during discovery is a different action than forging a document and THEN turning it over.
Let the jury decide
Moreover, she ruled that while the allegations are serious and have strong evidence backing them, Wright’s legal team had answers rebutting the charges.
“[S]ignificant factual disputes abound regarding the evidence presented, the role and importance of various pieces of evidence in the case, Defendant’s intentions, and the credibility of witnesses,” Judge Bloom wrote. “These determinations, and factual inferences and legal conclusions to be derived from them, are best suited for a jury to make as fact finder at trial, not for the Court to make.”