Granath v Wright Trial Concludes: Ruling Forthcoming

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
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A closely watched trial in the world of cryptocurrencies came to an end on Wednesday.

Magnus Grath vs. Dr. Craig Wright was set to determine if Grath's hateful tweets against Wright can be deemed as lawful in a Norway court.  Proving slander is not enough to have an individual held liable for their actions in the Nordic nation.  Those actions include allegedly mocking a man with autism, including the use of hashtags.   The common thread of Grath's attacks appear to center around the notion that Wright is a fraud and regularly shot down claims that he was the creator of Bitcoin. 

Ørjan Salvesen Haukaas of DLA Piper appeared on behalf of the plaintiff and was mostly dismissive of the witnesses that testified on behalf of Wright.

Among those witnesses: Stefan Matthews, chairman of nChain, testified that he first met Dr. Wright in the mid 2000s when working for the Australian online gaming company CentreBet.

The company contracted BDO to do a systems control audit on the company and Wright was the audit lead back in 2007.  Matthews said that his team was highly impressed with Wright's work. Wright talked at length with Matthews about an electronic cash project he was working on.  Wright then provided Matthews with a hard copy of a draft Bitcoin white paper before it had been released anywhere publicly.

Matthews told the court “it was like I’d seen a ghost” after seeing the white paper years later and knowing it was exactly what Wright had given him back in 2007-2008.

Rob Jenkins also vouched for Wright.  The IT consultant met Wright while working at Vodafone and claimed he discussed the concepts of Bitcoin prior to the emergence of that digital currency. 

Haukaas claimed that Matthews in particular was “absolutely not trustworthy whatsoever", pointing to Mathews strong self-interest in Dr Wright’s identity.

“In total, based on the evidence, we find that the court must find proven that Mr. Wright has not written the Bitcoin white paper, has not written the Bitcoin code, and never had access to Satoshi Nakamoto’s private keys or their Bitcoin,” Haukaas said.

It was also argued that Wright is a public figure, which makes it much harder to claim slander.  This is true of U.S. law as well.

CoinGeek's Jordan Atkins noted that Grath's own witnesses failed to endorse the comments the plaintiff posted on social media platforms, primarily Twitter.

Halvor Manshaus and Halvard Helle of Schjodt provided their closing arguments for Wright.

From Atkins:

Halvard Helle said that there are layers of rationalizations from Granath’s side which must be “peeled off.” At the end of the day, it was pure hate speech online: while Dr. Wright has engaged in debate through Twitter and in person, that has never been the case with Granath. Before Granath decided to launch his campaign against Dr. Wright, the two had never interacted.

“For [Dr Wright], this came as lightning from a clear sky,” said Helle.

The Judge indicated that a judgment might come in early November.

- Aaron Goldstein,

Business/Financial News