Neville Sinclair

Neville Sinclair reveals the project Craig Wright pitched to BDO pre-Bitcoin and his extraordinary skills

YouTube video

Dr. Craig S. Wright did pitch a blockchain-like concept to auditing firm BDO in the pre-Bitcoin days, says former colleague Neville Sinclair. Sinclair’s words came as part of his sworn testimony to the “Hodlonaut” trial in Oslo, Norway, between plaintiff Marcus Granath and Dr. Wright.

A full video of Sinclair’s testimony and questioning is available here, and all witness testimonies are available on CoinGeek’s YouTube channel. We encourage all those interested to watch the full sessions and make their own judgments about Bitcoin’s history, free of internet and social media spin.

Sinclair (now retired) is a Registered Chartered Accountant who worked for the firm Grant Thornton and remained on board after its merger into BDO in 2004. He had worked mainly with mutual banks and credit unions and, as financial technology developed, became involved with auditing systems related to security and customer data.

Like other witnesses in the trial, Sinclair described Wright’s level of technical knowledge and understanding as standing out far above others. During the proceedings, this was always the point the witnesses made most emphatically when discussing their early impressions of Dr. Wright’s personality.

“Certainly, in his technical skills, he was extraordinary in the way he understood the workings within the computer systems, and his ability to extract and identify the potential risks that might be useful for the clients to understand, and continue to evaluate solutions,” Sinclair stated.

He also noted that Dr. Wright’s statements “were not always appreciated by the clients, particularly in the IT divisions but he was always well-versed in giving the details that needed to be done to their systems.” His direct manner sometimes “caused a bit of friction” with clients, but Wright was very adamant about getting others to understand the implications of any risks he had identified.

Sinclair’s work with Wright at BDO concerned payment card standards and identifying potential data risks/threats. BDO’s work largely revolved around auditing security systems in this area.

In explaining digital transaction methods and data security, Wright would often draw diagrams. Sinclair said he realizes now those diagrams are conceptually similar to blockchain, though Wright never referred to that term at the time. When Dr. Wright was “outed” by Gizmodo and WIRED in 2015 as being Bitcoin’s creator, Sinclair recalled he thought it was definitely something Wright could have achieved, given his interests and depth of technical knowledge.

Pitching the ‘Timechain’

During last year’s trial in Florida, where Dr. Wright defended his position against Ira Kleiman, it emerged in testimony that Dr. Wright had pitched a system he called “Timechain” to BDO partner Allan Granger before the Bitcoin white paper had been published or finalized. During questioning in Oslo, Sinclair corroborated that evidence, saying he could remember Wright speaking of such an idea and asking permission to engage with some of BDO’s clients who might have found it useful.

BDO had passed on the idea. Sinclair himself thought it could be helpful to some of BDO’s clients but, given the size of those companies, thought it was doubtful they could financially support Wright’s work.

The word “Bitcoin” itself didn’t come up until several years later, he said, perhaps around 2011, when Dr. Wright gave him a physical Bitcoin coin. This also matches several other testimonies which describe Wright as very enthusiastic about Bitcoin technology in its earlier days, advising his friends and former colleagues to acquire some of the digital tokens. Most of them also passed on this idea despite Bitcoin being a known technology at the time, something some have joked about regretting.

Watch Granath vs Wright Satoshi Norway Trial Coverage Livestream Recaps on the CoinGeek YouTube channel.

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.