Australian police raid home of possible bitcoin creator – report

© Benoit Tessier
Police in Australia have raided the Sydney home of a man identified by Wired magazine as the possible creator of bitcoin, according to a Reuters witness. Over a dozen officers entered the place to “clear” it, they said.

The property is registered to Craig Steven Wright, the person Wired and Gizmodo technology websites reported as the likely real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonymous personality who created bitcoin in 2009.

Wired described him as the 45-year-old “climate-change denier, a serial entrepreneur ... and an eccentric.”

The raid comes just a few hours after that report.

More than a dozen Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers and taxation officials entered Wright’s house on Sydney’s North Shore. A Reuters witness asked what they were doing, and the police said they were “clearing” the place.

The AFP issued a statement regarding the raid, saying that the “presence at Mr. Wright's property is not associated with the media reporting overnight about bitcoins.”

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) was asked to comment on the situation, but hasn’t responded to inquiries.

Wired and Gizmodo’s probes were based on leaked emails, documents and web archives, allegedly including a transcript of a meeting between Wright and Australian tax officials.

Wired connected the person’s identity with a 2008 blog post by 45-year-old Craig Steven Wright that mentioned his plan to create a “cryptocurrency paper.”

In another post, three months later, Wright asked the readers to use a PGP public key – a unique string of characters that lets users of that encryption software to get encrypted messages. The PGP public key was also linked with Nakamoto.

In a January 2009 post that he later deleted, Wright reportedly announced the launch of beta-bitcoin “tomorrow.” Due to the time difference, he published the post prior to the currency’s actual launch.

Wired contacted Wright and received a reply from a previously-unknown email account, but weren’t granted an interview.

Following Wired’s publication, Wright’s blog was taken down.

“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,” Wired’s Andy Greenberg and Gwern Branwen wrote.

The technology website Gizmodo also published its probe on the alleged bitcoin creator, reporting that Wright and his late friend, US computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman, were both involved in the cryptocurrency’s creation.

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In the investigation, Gizmodo referred to an email dating January 8, 2014, that seems to show Wright writing to three colleagues from the address, and the signature is ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’. However, the phone number indicated in the email is Wright’s. The email discussed the possibility to lobby Australian Senator Arthur Sinodinos over bitcoin laws.

They also tried approaching Wright’s current wife at their home. She is a director of his company DeMorgan, but she declined to comment. Gizmodo also contacted Wright’s ex-wife, who remembered her husband working on “digital money” many years ago.

The identity of the person who created bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, six years ago, has always been veiled in mystery.

He or she has been hiding under what is presumed a pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto.

The latest reports are by no means the media’s first attempts to reveal the identity of bitcoin’s creator: in May, the New York Times tried to unmask Nakamoto, last year Newsweek published their investigation. However, all previous attempts proved inconclusive.

Released in 2009, bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that allows online users to carry out electronic transactions without using commercial banks as intermediaries.