Is Aussie entrepreneur bitcoin's mystery founder?

Australian police yesterday searching a home in Sydney said to belong to Mr Craig Wright. He has been named by tech websites Wired and Gizmodo as the likely creator of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
Australian police yesterday searching a home in Sydney said to belong to Mr Craig Wright. He has been named by tech websites Wired and Gizmodo as the likely creator of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY • Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has been identified by tech publications as possibly the mysterious founder of online cryptocurrency bitcoin, shortly before his Sydney home was reportedly raided in a tax probe.

There has long been speculation about who was behind the software written in 2009 under the name Satoshi Nakamoto, but whoever is behind it would likely want to keep his identify secret as detractors say bitcoin's use on the underground Silk Road website, where users buy drugs and guns with it, could link the person with criminal activity.

Technology-focused websites Wired and Gizmodo have now both suggested Mr Wright was responsible, saying he fits the creator's profile in nearly every detail, citing leaked documents.

"The signs point to Craig Steven Wright, a man who never even made it onto any Nakamoto hunters' public list of candidates, yet fits the cryptocurrency creator's profile in nearly every detail," said Wired of its investigation.

"Despite a massive trove of evidence, we still can't say with absolute certainty that the mystery is solved. But two possibilities outweigh all others: Either Wright invented bitcoin, or he's a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did."

Yesterday, police raided a home in Sydney where Mr Wright reportedly lived with his family.

"The Australian Federal Police can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon, Sydney," police said in a statement, without confirming it belonged to Mr Wright. They added that the search was unrelated to bitcoin.

Gizmodo reported that Mr Wright and Mr Dave Kleiman, a US computer forensics expert who died in 2013, were both involved in the development of the digital currency. It cited hacked e-mail and other documents apparently showing Mr Wright making repeated claims to being Nakamoto over a period of years.

None of the details could be verified by Agence France-Presse.

Bitcoins are generated by complex chains of interactions among a huge network of computers, and are not backed by any government or central bank, unlike traditional currencies.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Is Aussie entrepreneur bitcoin's mystery founder?'. Print Edition | Subscribe