'Bitcoin founder' Craig Wright's home raided by Australian police
Elle Hunt and Paul Farrell 43 mins ago
(© Corbis) The raids are not related to the claims surrounding Wright being involved in the creation of bitcoin, but are related to an Australian Tax Office investigation
Police have raided the home of an Australian tech entrepreneur identified by two investigations as one of the early developers of the digital currency bitcoin.
On Wednesday afternoon, police forced open 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 sites have indicated that they believe Wright to have been involved in the creation of the cryptocurrency.
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.
Guardian Australia understands the raids are not related to the claims surrounding Wright being involved in the creation of bitcoin, but are related to an Australian Tax Office investigation.
The founder of the software – known pseudonymously as Satoshi Nakamoto – has never been revealed publicly, despite numerous attempts by news organisations.
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 taxation affairs in which his bitcoin holdings are discussed at length.
During the interview, the transcript attributed to Wright: “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 Australian Tax Office said she 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 taxation 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 off as “Craig (possibly).”
The email surrounded whether or not contact should be made with the 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.
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 phone was hung up.