The ongoing court battle between Craig Wright and the estate of his late friend David Kleiman took a bizarre turn this week when the Katana-wielding Aussie made subtle online threats to the prosecution witnesses — while they were on the stand.
The trial over more than $60 billion in disputed Bitcoin is now into its third week. Lawyers for the Kleiman estate were preparing to wrap up and hand over to the defense.
Law360 reports that, as Wright’s lawyer was disputing the testimony of Matthew Edman, a digital forensic expert, Wright took to messaging app Slack to make comments the plaintiff’s attorney called “a clear intimidation tactic.”
As detailed by CoinDesk, the offending message said:
“You know you can sue ‘experts’ who give misleading testimony.”
“They shouldn’t make statements of fraud where there is no evidence of intent.”
Edman took the stand to give his opinion on whether an estimated 40 documents provided by Wright had been forged.
His conclusion: They were.
Judge Bloom agreed with Kleiman’s lawyers. Summing up her stance on Wright’s messages and his continued use of messaging apps, she said:
“It’s not this court’s function to monitor your public or private activities, but to the extent that it does have a chilling effect on witnesses and it’s a direct or indirect threat, then I do get involved.”
“I certainly don’t have a lot of litigants that persist in publicly making statements throughout the course of the trial, but that’s entirely your decision.”
Wright just can’t keep off Slack
Last week, US District Judge Beth Bloom ruled that comments Wright made could be shown to the jury. This is despite him believing he was posting them in a private channel.
These included claims that the value of Bitcoin-related intellectual property he owns stands at around $252 billion.
Judge Bloom did, however, say she wouldn’t admit into evidence messages by Wright in which he compared his late colleague to stapler-obsessed character Milton from the 1999 movie Office Space.
Kleiman could have taught himself to code
Now in its third week, much of the trial hinges on whether Kleiman and Wright were business partners or friends.
Wright has previously claimed that Kleiman played little or no role in the creation of the world’s first cryptocurrency.
He has claimed on multiple occasions that he simply didn’t have the technical know-how to make a meaningful contribution.
However, under cross-examination on Wednesday, Kevin Madura, a cybersecurity expert and senior vice president at AlixPartners LLP said that the only resume he’d seen belonging to Kleiman had been provided by Wright himself.
He also said it’s entirely possible that he could have taught himself to code.
Follow us on Twitter for more informed crypto news.