Kleiman vs. Wright Day 1: Opening Statements

Golden bitcoins and judge gavel

All eyes in the digital currency space are on the Kleiman vs. Wright civil trial that started on November 1 with jury selection and opening statements from both sides. It has been an eventful day filled with accusations made, arguments refuted and lessons about Bitcoin, the pioneer digital currency and first-ever functional application of blockchain technology.

nChain Chief Scientist Dr. Craig S. Wright is known as Satoshi Nakamoto, the author of the Bitcoin white paper; hence, its creator. There is no question about that. The trial is all about whether Wright was the sole creator of Bitcoin or he has a partner in the person of computer forensics expert David Kleiman, his best friend who died in April 2013. 

Ira Kleiman, David Kleiman’s brother and executor of his estate, has filed this civil lawsuit asserting that David Kleiman’s surviving family has a right to up to half of the 1.1 million Bitcoin, which is now worth more than $60 billion, that Wright is in possession of as the creator of Bitcoin. 

The Plaintiff’s Argument

Kyle Roche, legal counsel of the Kleiman estate, is the first one to present his opening statement. He presents emails as evidence that illustrate how Wright repeatedly calls David Kleiman his “partner” and “business partner,” and how both owned W&K Info Defense Research LLC, which was used to mine Bitcoin. 

Roche passionately tries to sway the jury to his side with a timeline that allegedly establishes how Wright changed his attitude after Kleiman’s death and tries to cheat his family off of $40 million worth of shares that Wright transferred to himself in 2015. And it was only when Ira Kleiman was alerted of this fact by the Australian Taxation Office that the dispute began. 

“You’re going to see the tangled web of lies that Craig Wright has spun for years,” Roche claimed.

The Defense

While Roche is passionate and fiery, Wright’s attorney Amanda McGovern has a calmer yet emotion-filled approach in relating how, ultimately, Ira Kleiman’s lawsuit is formulated after the value of Bitcoin skyrocketed, and it is an insult to David Kleiman and Wright’s friendship, two men who simply understood each other. 

McGovern then asserts that there is no written communication or proof that explicitly states that Kleiman and Wright were co-creators of Bitcoin. Kleiman may have helped Wright in polishing the Bitcoin white paper and promoting Bitcoin after it was officially launched, but this does not prove that he co-invented the pioneer digital currency. Furthermore, Kleiman’s partner in W&K Info Defense Research LLC is actually Lynn Wright, Craig Wright’s now ex-wife. 

“Nothing that you saw in that whole timeline represents a conversation between Dr. Wright and Dave Kleiman to form a partnership to invent Bitcoin and mine Bitcoin. This is a case that Ira Kleiman built after Dave’s death,” McGovern argued. 

Kurt Wuckert Jr., a journalist covering the trial, recalls seeing Wright become emotional when McGovern was talking about David Kleiman and his lonely and gruesome death. Where was Ira Kleiman when his wheel-chair-bound brother was dying alone in his home?

According to presiding Judge Beth Bloom, the trial will be done before Thanksgiving, which will finish the cross-examination of a total of 35 witnesses including Wright. And if Day 1 of the historic Bitcoin trial is any indication of what is to come, then people can expect a dramatic courtroom battle where the friendship of two men is put under a microscope in order to settle what may be one of the biggest disputes the world has seen.

Read more: Kleiman v Wright Day 3 Lunchtime Report: Ira Kleiman Takes Stand, Explains Court Absence

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