A Miami jury has sided with self-proclaimed Bitcoin mastermind Craig Wright in his latest high-profile court battle. He’s been ordered to cough up a mere $100 million, reports Law360.
Despite the huge sums involved in the ruling, things could have been a lot worse for Wright — $200 billion in damages were sought by the plaintiff.
Wright had been fighting the estate of his late business partner Dave Kleiman over 1.1 million Bitcoin, which Kleiman’s brother claimed was mined by the pair.
Ira Kleiman alleged that his brother worked alongside Wright to create the world’s first digital currency and was therefore entitled to half of the stash.
Today the Bitcoin is worth somewhere in the region of $56 billion.
Wright disagreed, saying he and Kleiman had just been good friends — the late author and forensics expert didn’t have the coding knowledge to make any meaningful contribution, he argued to the jury.
Jury found Wright guilty of conversion
Despite the Miami jury agreeing that Wright had not breached any business partnership between himself and Kleiman, it did find him guilty of conversion.
Conversion basically means stealing somebody else’s property and pretending it belongs to you.
In this case, the charge related to unspecified intellectual property Wright took from W&K Info Defense Research, the company he and Kleiman founded in 2011.
Over the course of the trial, the jury heard about a number of projects, including “testnet Bitcoins,” supercomputers, and hard drives, which were referred to as W&K’s intellectual property.
The money that Wright will have to hand over will go directly to W&K rather than the Kleiman estate and, as specified by the jury, is to be paid in fiat, not Bitcoin.
Wright “relieved” despite mammoth payout
Speaking after the verdict, Wright told Law360 that he was “incredibly relieved” and that the $100 million verdict “is not bad at all.”
He also said he doesn’t intend to appeal the jury’s decision.
The Kleiman estate also claimed to be happy with the result.
Ira Kleiman’s attorney Val Freedman said the team was “thrilled” with the $100 million outcome.
“We are immensely gratified that our client, W&K Information Defense Research LLC, has been awarded $100 million, reflecting that Craig Wright wrongfully took Bitcoin-related assets from W&K” (our emphasis).
“This verdict sets a historical precedent in the innovative and transformative industry of cryptocurrency and blockchain.”
Wright’s own attorney, Andrés Rivero praised the “remarkably responsible” jury and boasted his team “crushed” the plaintiffs.
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