Roger Ver in a surprised expression raising his hands.

Roger Ver must face Craig Wright’s defamation claim in Antigua, court rules

The High Court of Antigua and Barbuda have ruled that Dr. Craig Wright’s defamation case against Roger “Bitcoin Jesus” Ver can proceed.

The suit concerns statements made by Ver on his YouTube channel: he called Dr. Wright a “liar” and a “fraud,” and inviting Dr Wright to “sue me. Again.” Dr. Wright alleges that these statements had damaged his reputation and were therefore defamatory.

Ver had applied to have the claim thrown out on the basis that the Antiguan court did not have jurisdiction to hear it, primarily because neither party had sufficient connection to the country—but the High Court rejected that suggestion on Monday. They looked at the fact that both Ver and Wright are citizens of the country and made specific note of the fact that Dr. Wright had assisted the Antiguan government with an overhaul of their digital asset legislation.

The suit will now proceed to trial.

This ruling marks the culmination of years of jurisdiction-hopping by Ver as he sought to avoid the claim, originally filed by Dr. Wright in the U.K. back in 2019. The U.K. court rejected the claim on the basis that the English courts were not the most appropriate venue to hear the dispute, and Ver fled to set up shop in Antigua where he publicly stated his hope to turn the island nation into a Bitcoin hub; Ver owns property in Jolly Harbour, Antigua. Unfortunately for Ver, Dr. Wright has also been a citizen of Antigua since 2016, making the country the perfect venue to litigate Dr. Wright’s defamation claim. This time, Ver couldn’t hide behind a jurisdictional challenge: with the Antiguan court now ruling that they have jurisdiction to hear the claim, it’s time for Ver to face the music.

Dr. Wright said in a statement:

“I’m pleased we’re now proceeding with this claim as Ver has been hiding behind jurisdictional challenges for years now as he tries to avoid responsibility for his actions. I look forward to the court finding his campaign against me is wrong and defamatory, causing significant damage to my reputation. He backed the wrong horse.” 

Derek Stinson, managing partner at ONTIER LLP, Dr Wright’s legal representatives in the U.K., said:

“Dr Wright should not be subjected to a defamatory campaign by anyone. Roger Ver defamed Dr Wright and seeks to avoid responsibility for his social media publications – this time on a hopeless procedural challenge. He should abandon his campaign to undermine Dr Wright and publicly state the truth, Dr Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.”

For Ver’s part, the case is set to cement him in Bitcoin history as a key stepping stone toward the broader acceptance of Dr. Wright’s status as Bitcoin’s inventor. He will join a growing list of antagonists that have inadvertently provided a platform for Dr. Wright to demonstrate in a court of law and with the benefit of sworn evidence that he is Satoshi Nakamoto.

In 2022, Dr. Wright won a defamation claim in the English courts against blogger Peter McCormack over similar statements: there, the English High Court found that McCormack’s statements calling Dr. Wright among other things a liar and a fraud had caused serious harm Dr. Wright’s reputation in the United Kingdom.

Another defamation action against Norwegian Twitter user Magnus Granath is currently making its way through the English courts. Granath tried and failed to have the claim struck out earlier this year, and is expected to reach trial in late 2023.

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