One story central to Dr. Craig Wright’s claim to have created Bitcoin as “Satoshi Nakamoto” is that of Stefan Matthews. Told in detail in his sworn testimony as part of Wright’s defense against Marcus “Hodlonaut” Granath in Norway, they form essential pieces of the Bitcoin history puzzle.
Matthews now serves as CEO of the group that includes nChain, but has known Dr. Wright for over 17 years. Their relationship has been both professional and personal, and Matthews has played a major role in setting up the IP and development businesses for BSV. More notably, he says he was aware of Wright’s work on creating Bitcoin prior to 2009 and was present at the “signing sessions” involving Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen.
Matthews first met Dr. Wright in 2005. At that time, Matthews was Chief Information Officer at Centrebet, a Melbourne-based licensed gambling company. Centrebet was conducting an IPO and needed an audit for its control systems as part of a due diligence and compliance report to the Australian Stock Exchange. The company they selected was BDO, Wright’s employer at the time, and Wright was the primary point of contact or “audit lead.”
Matthews adds that Wright was genuinely interested in his clients’ businesses and seemed to enjoy educating them on how to do things properly—a demeanor he hadn’t usually found in auditors. Wright’s “enormous number of credentials” had impressed the team, and “his technical understanding was second to none.” His interpersonal skills “were a little different,” Matthews chuckles, saying Wright would simply walk into his office at any time and take a seat, even when there was already a meeting going on there.
By 2007 the two had become fairly well acquainted, and their conversation topics broadened to include Wright’s interests in things like gold-backed digital currencies, tracking and security-related events on immutable ledgers, currency and cash movements, and modeling networks.
Wright left BDO in late 2008, subsequently did private contracting work at Centrebet, and joined a board subcommittee as an advisor. Then, around August 2008, Wright showed Matthews a copy of a white paper he’d been drafting. It concerned the kinds of topics they’d discussed previously and, although Matthews looked at it, told Wright that Centrebet would not be able to play any role in such an experimental project due to investor obligations.
Matthews says he later realized that paper was a late draft of the Bitcoin white paper. He noted the word “Bitcoin” had appeared in that draft. Although he didn’t communicate regularly with Wright after Centrebet was acquired in 2010, they re-acquainted socially in 2015. By that time, Matthews had heard the word Bitcoin a few times in daily life, and it rang a bell.
In April/May 2015, Wright contacted Matthews again to discuss business matters, and to get up to speed, he started reading about Wright’s company DeMorgan, and found references to Bitcoin. It was when he started reading pieces of Bitcoin’s history in depth that the puzzle pieces started coming together.
At dinner, he confronted Wright by asking, “Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?” Wright replied by saying, “You already know the answer to that question.” Matthews asked for a straight answer, and Wright said, “I am.”
Matthews then goes into detailed accounts of events since then, which are closely analyzed tales in Bitcoin lore these days. Wright and Matthews decided to set up a company to manage development and intellectual property, but they needed investors. Matthews introduced Wright to (CoinGeek owner) Calvin Ayre. In Vancouver, they began arrangements for Dr. Wright and his family to relocate to the U.K., involving visas and moving to a temporary apartment in Sydney. At some point, writer Andrew O’Hagan was brought in to document the company’s evolution, though Matthews was concerned at it being too soon and without proper (NDA) agreements in place.
These plans were jolted when WIRED and Gizmodo messaged Wright saying they had acquired evidence he’d played a part in Bitcoin’s creation (though they never revealed what this documentation included).
Matthews then details how they agreed instead to private “signing sessions” with Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen, where the two men were convinced of Wright’s Bitcoin role and the subsequent planned signings for media, where everything started to fall apart.
Through all this, Matthews says he remains convinced that Dr. Wright was Satoshi. He noted that Matonis has also told him he still believes this to be true (Matonis would later work at nChain for a period). For the record, Andresen has never publicly recanted his belief either.
“I know what I know, and I saw what I saw, and my history is my history. I had personal discussions around these topics before Bitcoin was released publicly,” Matthews says to Wright’s attorney.
Matthews eventually found new investors and grew nChain from there, where he now serves as CEO.
The cross-examination – How many details can Matthews remember?
Under cross-examination from Granath’s counsel, Matthews’ memory is probed on specific dates and details regarding the white paper draft, signing sessions, blog posts, and negotiations.
Matthews reiterates that Dr. Wright never wanted to perform any public action, “proving” that he was Satoshi and notes that the private signings only formed part of the overall efforts to establish Wright’s claims. As for Wright’s libel actions against his online accusers, Matthews says he was only peripherally involved in discussions and hadn’t played a part in forming the strategy.
As the trial judge reminds each witness as they were sworn in, “it is a punishable offense to lie to the court.” For all the debates on historical claims and document forensics we see on social media, this line matters most. People who have spent entire lifetimes building and retaining their reputations in business and government service are putting that proof of work on the line by testifying. They could have declined to. For some, the reputations they built are unrelated to Bitcoin. No powerful entity could protect them from further prosecution if they were found to be telling untruths. It’s important to consider all this when listening to these testimonies.
Watch Granath vs Wright Satoshi Norway Trial Coverage Livestream Recaps on the CoinGeek YouTube channel.
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