Craig Wright has been filing lawsuits against many long-standing influential figures in the digital asset space in his quest to prove that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. Nobody was safe.
Cobra, who controls Bitcoin.org, lost a lawsuit Wright had brought to force the website to take down the Bitcoin whitepaper that Satoshi Nakamoto authored. The ruling was a default judgment because Cobra would have been forced to reveal his or her identity to defend against it.
Roger Ver had to defend against multiple lawsuits brought by Craig Wright – apparently, at least three of them. After a falling out between the two, Ver called Wright a “liar” and “fraud” and admitted having been fooled by him. A High Court of England and Wales dismissed the first one. Justice Matthew Nicklin of the Queen’s Bench Division explained his reasoning in the decision:
“The Claimant has not satisfied me that England and Wales is clearly the most appropriate place to bring his action for defamation over the publications complained of. In consequence, the Court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the action. The action will be struck out.”
With no success in England and Wales, Wright moved on to Antigua and Barbuda, where both Wright and Ver have citizenship.
Craig Wright vs. Hodlnaut vs. Craig Wright
Wright started going after Hodlnaut in 2019, bringing similar libel allegations to the Norwegian District Court. Similar to the Roger Ver case, Hodlnaut called him a “fraud” and a “scammer” in tweets.
Wright had tried in the UK, only for a UK High Court to rule that it didn’t have jurisdiction. In June 2020, the Norwegian Court of Appeals tossed the case and ordered Craig Wright to pay $60,000 in legal fees. Hodlnaut claims that Wright hasn’t paid him anything.
However, the fight wasn’t over yet. Hodlnaut preemptively filed a suit against Wright in an effort to combat Wright’s plan to file a lawsuit in the U.K. again.
Craig Wright takes the stand
During a weeks-long trial in Oslo, Hodlnaut argued that Craig Wright had not adequately proven his central claim to the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto.
District Court Judge Helen Engebrigtsen agreed, saying that Wright’s arguments were “not suitable to change [the court’s] prevailing opinion that Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto.”
It remains to be seen whether the ruling will affect Wright’s U.K. case against Hodlnaut despite his confidence that it could be used as an exhibit in various ongoing cases:
In the U.K., it can be notoriously difficult for a defendant in a libel case to prove that it wasn’t libel. Peter McCormack lost a similar libel case filed with a U.K. court by Craig Wright despite Wright submitting fake evidence.
Although the judge in the McCormack case only awarded Wright a single pound, the ruling may be more important to Wright’s overall legal strategy than the amount that is awarded. Some observers theorized that Wright’s ultimate aim is to force developers to change Bitcoin’s code so that he can claim the coins held by Satoshi Nakamoto’s known Bitcoin addresses.
This will be enormously difficult to actually pull off. Wright would still have to get miners and node owners on board, and he has not made himself very popular in the digital asset community. One person even suggested that his reputation is so bad that it can’t be harmed by claims that he’s a fraud, though of course that shouldn’t be taken as legal advice.
Craig Wright even tried claiming that he smashed the hard drives containing Satoshi Nakamoto’s wallets (which, of course, is unlikely). However, his arguments had enough holes that Norway’s District Court, at least, wasn’t buying his bullshit and sided with Hodlnaut.