Hours after two articles pegged Wright as the man behind the myth, Australian authorities moved in, raiding the residence “Cold fish Craig” (as he was known in his neighborhood) rented with his wife and conducting searches and interviews at his businesses.
Apparently, Australian tax authorities had questioned Wright in the past and according to a number of sources (and documents obtained by Wired and Gizmodo), there appears to have been some manner of dispute over how his bitcoin holdings should be taxed. The attention accorded to Wright on the heels of the two articles published late last Tuesday might have prompted the ATO to move in once and for all, although authorities claimed at the time that there was no connection between the new “revelations” about Wright’s identity and the raids.
Now, we get the latest twist in what is already a fairly bizarre story, as The Australian says that in May of 2013, Wright attempted to buy some $85 million in gold and software from Mark Ferrier, who at the time was working on a deal whereby his MJF Mining would obtain 50% of the gold discovered by ASX-listed goldminer Paynes Find Gold.
Apparently, Paynes needed machinery which Ferrier - via MJF - was willing to provide in exchange for a claim on any future discoveries. According to the Australian, “Mr Ferrier is alleged to have told Mr Wright gold was good security in the event the ‘funny money’ of Bitcoin failed.” Here’s what supposedly happened next:
Mr Wright has alleged payments were made in August 2013 of $38.8m — then the equivalent of 245,103 Bitcoin — for Siemens software and gold from Paynes. He then claimed payments were made to Mr Ferrier of $20.3m — or 135,100 Bitcoin — in September 2013 for the “core software” from Al-Baraka. In September that year Mr Ferrier was arrested in Perth and the gold partnership with Paynes was discontinued.
In December 2013 Mr Wright filed actions in the Federal Court and NSW Supreme Court suing for his share of the gold, claiming the sum of $84.42m based on the market value of the alleged Bitcoin payments for the gold.
Paynes' annual financial report for the year ending June 30, 2014 contains the following passage about the partnership:
The company terminated a mining services and profit sharing agreement with MJF on October 1, 2013. Mr. Mark Ferrier has lodged a statement of claim with the District Court of New South Wales, claiming an amount of $279,621 related to the loss of profits from the small scale mining.The company considers the claim to be completely false.
Here's an excerpt from a transcript of an ATO meeting that tells part of the story (this is from a John Chesher, who was Wright's accountant):
Craig Wright was speaking in a conference in Melbourne. He was giving a talk about Bitcoins and mining. He was then approached by a man by the name of Mark Ferrier and that was how they met. This was how the relationship was formed. They started talking. Craig Wright told Mark Ferrier that he wanted to start up a Bitcoin bank. They then started emailing. Mark Ferrier told him that he knew someone who could help him start up the bank. This was all done in early June 2013. Everything was done very quickly- most of it was done in one weekend. Craig Wright, with the help of Mark Ferrier, agreed to purchase banking software from Al Baraka. Mark Ferrier also convinced him to purchase gold ore.
He also offered Ian Ferrier’s services to Mark Ferrier. Ian Ferrier is Mark Ferrier’s father. Before engaging in Mark Ferrier’s services, Craig Wright had conducted lots of checks on him and everything came up clean. So in essence, Craig Wright wanted the banking software and Mark Ferrier wanted Bitcoins. Around mid-July/August,
Craig Wright released funds from an entity located in the UK to MJF Consulting. This was all going through a server located in Central West Africa. Mark Ferrier was then arrested in September 2013. Craig Wright then started to take action to protect his own rights. Your director, Des McMaster has informed us that ASIC documents show that Mark Ferrier was only put on as a director for one day. Craig Wright then contacted Pitcher Partners in Brisbane and asked them for an explanation. We found out that Mark Ferrier was never a director. The address that he had on ASIC was false as well. Craig Wright was able to get hold of the banking software and automation system. He has everything but not the gold ore. He was expected to receive the gold ore in 2015 but now that’s not happening as the gold can’t be delivered.
Craig Wright has also contacted Ian Ferrier. Ian Ferrier advised us that he has not spoken to Mark Ferrier for 2 years and wants nothing to do with him. We have a case against MJF Consulting with the Supreme Court of NSW and also the Federal Court. The case with the Federal Court is for deceptive conduct against Mark Ferrier personally as an individual.
Due diligence was conducted on Mark Ferrier before we engaged him. We have done all we could to protect ourselves. If you look at the transactions made, you will see that every transaction was pegged against the currency exchange rate at the time. Craig Wright has already advised you that the accounting method for this personal enterprise should be changed from cash to accruals. The accounts should be on accruals from the start of the 2013 income year. Craig Wright has previously informed the ATO of this. We have previously been dealing with ATO officers from different sites at first, e.g. some initial work was being conducted from the Hurstville office, Brisbane office etc. But then Des McMaster made a decision for all the audits to be done from Parramatta. The audits were then being conducted by Celso. I am uncomfortable with the fact that Des McMaster is looking after these audits. We have had past dealings with him in the previous audits.
For those interested in attempting to get to the bottom of this, you can read more here (just use a word search for "Ferrier), and we're sure they'll be much, much more revealed as time goes on, unless of course the Craig Wright story goes the way of all other Satoshi Nakamoto discovery claims (see Newsweek).
What's immediately interesting however is that while Ferrier might not have "actually wanted any Bitcoin," (to quote Wright), it does seem clear that Wright did and still does, want gold.
The takeaway: if you believe Wright is Satoshi, then the founder of bitcoin is skeptical enough of his creation's intrinsic value compared to hard assets that he was at one time willing to trade a sizeable portion of his cryptocurrency wealth for physical gold.
Trade - or "mine", as it were - accordingly.