Adonis Diaries

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Bitcoin founder Craig Wright: Home raided for possible Tax Evasion?

Police have raided the home of an Australian tech entrepreneur identified by two US publications as one of the early developers of the digital currency bitcoin.

On Wednesday afternoon, police gained entry to a home belonging to Craig Wright, who had hours earlier been identified in investigations by Gizmodo and Wired, based on leaked transcripts of legal interviews and files.

Both publications have indicated that they believe Wright to have been involved in the creation of the cryptocurrency.

Who is Craig Wright and how likely is it that he’s behind bitcoin?

Separate investigations by US tech publications suggest an Australian could be at the heart of the cryptocurrency and may even be ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’. How certain are the claims – and why was he raided by police on Tuesday?

Craig Steven Wright
Australian Craig Wright, who has been linked to the creation of Bitcoin. Photograph:
Adonis Bouhatab shared a link.|By Elle Hunt

Other people who say they knew Wright have expressed strong doubts about his alleged role, with some saying privately they believe the publications have been the victims of an elaborate hoax.

More than 10 police personnel arrived at the house in the Sydney suburb of Gordon at about 1.30pm. Two police staff wearing white gloves could be seen from the street searching the cupboards and surfaces of the garage. At least three more were seen from the front door. (White glove in order Not to erase prints on keyboard?)

The Australian Federal police said in a statement that the raids were not related to the bitcoin claims.

“The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney. This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin.”

One officer told Reuters they were “clearing the house” (Any one wearing police outfit can clear a house).

Reuters reporter Jane Wardell said Wright’s offices were also being raided.

The house was the only one on the street with a rubbish bin still outside, six days after the weekly Thursday collection, and the letterbox was full, indicating that the house may have been empty recently.

Garry Hayres, the owner of the property, now based in Maroochydore, Queensland, told Guardian Australia that Wright and his wife Ramona Watts had leased the property in November 2012.

He only met Watts, “a lovely lady”, but said the couple were “typical tenants. They didn’t look after the place fantastically, but it wasn’t their home. They didn’t seem bad.”

He said they switched to from a full lease to month-by-month about six months ago, before informing him in the first week of December of their intention to leave.

Wright told him they were moving to London; he would go first, then Watts would follow.

The couple extended the lease by an extra week, taking them to the first week of January.

A neighbour said a huge container arrived about a month ago, followed by a small remover’s truck in the first week of December

He said Watts was a “pleasant lady” but described Wright as a “cold fish Craig”.

“Everybody talks on this street, but not with him. I don’t waste my time. He showed no interest, totally kept to himself.”

He said the couple had at least one child, a boy of about 16, as well as possibly a younger girl.

The identity of the founder of the software – known pseudonymously as Satoshi Nakamoto – has never been revealed, despite numerous attempts by news organisations to uncover it.

Wright is involved in a number of tech enterprises in Australia, company records show

The documents published by Gizmodo appear to show records of an interview with the Australian Tax Office surrounding his tax affairs in which his bitcoin holdings are discussed at length.

During the interview, the person the transcript names as Wright says: “I did my best to try and hide the fact that I’ve been running bitcoin since 2009 but I think it’s getting – most – most – by the end of this half the world is going to bloody know.”

Guardian Australia has been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the transcripts published by Gizmodo, or whether the transcript is an accurate reflection of the audio if the interview took place. It is also not clear whether the phrase “running” refers merely to the process of mining bitcoin using a computer.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Tax Office was unable to confirm whether the meetings with the ATO and Wright had taken place due to “obligations around confidentiality under the law”.

There is also no record publicly available of proceedings Wright was apparently involved in at Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal surrounding his tax affairs, mentioned in the leaked documents.

The purported admission in the transcript does not state that Wright is a founder of the currency, but other emails that Gizmodo claim are from Wright suggest further involvement he may have had in the development of bitcoin.

An email to a Clayton Utz lawyer identified as Wright’s lawyer in the ATO transcripts was sent from an address linked to Nakamoto and is signed “Craig (possibly).”

The email discussed whether contact should be made with Australia’s then assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos in January 2014 over the regulatory issues in Australia surrounding bitcoin.

The treatment of bitcoin for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The ATO ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset for capital gains tax purposes. (Unless the bitcoin devalued?)

The emails published by Gizmodo cannot been verified. Comment has been sought from Sinodinos on whether he was contacted by Wright – or his lawyer – in relation to bitcoin and its regulatory and taxation status in Australia.

A third email published by Gizmodo from 2008 attributes to Wright a comment where he said: “I have been working on a new form of electronic money. Bit cash, bit coin …”

Wright has also claimed to be a consultant for the Australian federal police. Guardian Australia understands the AFP have not been able to find any records of this association.

When Guardian Australia contacted the media number listed for one of Wright’s companies and asked whether Wright was the founder of bitcoin the person who answered the phone hung up

Nathaniel Popper, a reporter on Wall Street for the New York Times, tweeted he was emailed by someone attempting to unmask Wright, but he “didn’t find it convincing at the time”.

In subsequent tweets, having read both the Wired and Gizmodo investigations, Popper acknowledged there was some evidence to tie Wright to Satoshi. “The details of the Wright-Satoshi link are very convincing but where I get stuck is the personality.” (What that mean? Psych-analysing the character of this person?)

NoteAny computer skilled-person with a Decrypting program can use bitcoin transactions. The reason Bit-Coin is so highly volatile is because it is conceived and used as a currency.

Use Bitcoin as a digital means for bartering goods and services on a global scale and nobody lose on fluctuation of the bitcoin value. Once the negotiation of the price of the goods is done, the proper amount of bitcoin is transmitted and then exchanged for real currencies in the same day.

In the face of monopolistic tendencies by multinationals (especially monopolizing the financial transactions), bitcoin bartering system will play the role of global Black market trading exchange.




February 2023

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