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Australian police raided the home of the man who may have created bitcoin

Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Who can say?
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Hours after a long profile was published in Wired magazine naming Craig Steven Wright, a relatively obscure Australian, as the secretive creator of the digital currency bitcoin, police are reportedly raiding his home over a tax investigation.

More than 10 police officers arrived at Wright’s home in the Sydney suburbs on the afternoon of Dec. 9, the Guardian reported, forced open the door, and started searching the garage. The police “presence at Mr. Wright’s property is not associated with the media reporting overnight about bitcoins,” the Australian federal police said in a statement to Reuters, and referred all questions to the Australian Tax Office.

Wired’s profile naming Wright as the possible creator of one of the most transformative and disruptive technologies in financial services was published in the US the afternoon of Dec. 8, and shortly thereafter Gawker’s Gizmodo did the same, identifying Wright and another man—Dave Kleinman, a deceased computer scientist.

Since bitcoin was first discussed in a January 2009 paper authored by Satoshi Nakamoto, the bitcoin community and casual followers have tried to find out who the creator is. The New Yorker, Fast Company, and, most infamously, Newsweek have all written pieces attempting to find Nakamoto. As the digital currency garners interest from major financial heavyweights like Goldman Sachs, American Express, Bank of America, and other financial institutions across the world, Nakamoto’s identity remains one of the biggest questions.

According to Wired, the investigation started when a security researcher acquired documents that hinted at a “direct” link between Nakamoto and Wright. The evidence seems to be primarily made up of email correspondence between Wright and others, blog posts, and mailing lists.

Despite the tax raid, there’s a possibility that Wright could also be the wrong man. Questions are already being raised about Wired’s information online:

The strongest bit of evidence provided by Wired was a trust that contains 1.1 million bitcoins—the same size as Nakamoto’s bitcoin fortune. A bitcoin fortune that size was probably acquired in the early days of bitcoin, before it got more competitive. Though, according to a bio, Wright started “mining” bitcoin in 2009, when it was created, so he could have just been an early miner.

Maybe Australia’s tax authorities will have better luck figuring out the mystery.

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