Forensic Report Raises Questions about Australian Tax Office’s Handling of Craig Wright Probe

Introduction

We recently took the time to lay out a factual timeline of Craig Wright’s involvement with Bitcoin using publicly available information. While the list is not exhaustive, the bulk of information comes starting in 2014 as everything prior to that date has been scrubbed from the internet. When digging in to try and fill in the gaps between 2009–2013, you find a long and bitter battle between Wright and the Australian Tax Office. The BBC first asked Wright about his dealings with the ATO in his famous interview around May 2016. Here is his response:

  1. Wright was working with the Australian Tax Office to properly report tax on his Bitcoin businesses.
  2. Questions are raised about the Australian Tax Office’s handling of the various audits against Wright’s companies — specifically forensic analysis suggests fraudulent documents were used as evidence against Wright and a large security vulnerability existed in the ATO’s networks allowing modification and altering of records.

Background

As part of Wired/Gizmodo’s initial doxxing of Craig Wright, a leaked 2014 transcript between the Australian Tax Office and Craig Wright and his legal team gave us a glimpse into the long saga between Craig Wright’s various business dealings and the ATO. This document is authentic and is cited as evidence in the current lawsuit between Ira Kleiman and Craig Wright. In this transcript we are given some key insight into the various audits Craig Wright’s companies underwent as a result of his Bitcoin businesses dating back to 2009. Two days prior to the date of the transcript, Investor Daily reported that Wright was working with the ATO to “have a full banking licence from APRA based on Bitcoin” with his company Hotwire PE. The transcript shows that this was not Wright’s first experience with the Australian Tax Office surrounding his Bitcoin businesses, and specifically that he “gained a little bit of paranoia” from his prior experience with the ATO “in 2010 or whatever it was”:

February 2014 Transcript between Wright and the ATO

Questionable Evidence

Two months after this February 2014 meeting with the ATO, on 15 April 2014 the ATO reached out to Ira Kleiman and provided Ira with copies of purported agreements between Wright and Dave Kleiman. Ira begins to distrust Wright from this point on, and it is two weeks later where Wright, in a message to Ira, accuses the ATO of fabricating documents:

Sharples Report

Dr. Sharples performed his forensic analysis on November 2015:

Batey Report

Dated 11 November 2015, Alan Batey also performed an independent analysis on a set of emails. He also performed analysis on email DM5.

Conclusion

Authenticity of Documents are Called Into Question

The independent analysis done by Sharples and Batey indicates that there was a potential security vulnerability in the ATO’s networks while handling Wright’s case and specifically that there are legitimate questions regarding the provenance of individual emails used as evidence in the Wright case. It is noteworthy that Wright commissioned the independent forensic analysis just one month prior to the leaking of information about Wright’s supposed identity as Satoshi Nakamoto to Wired. As Ian Grigg has implied coordination between Wired and the ATO during these events, the timeline in light of this new information does raise questions themselves.

  1. There are many questions raised about the authenticity of many emails used as evidence against Wright, but specifically in regards to one email that appears to be related to a notice of the private ruling that Wright’s attorneys never received notice of.
  2. Independent forensic analysis showed a large security vulnerability in the Australian Tax Office’s networks that allowed for records to be altered and forwarded without being recorded.

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