Craig Steven Wright, who has been identified as the possible inventor of bitcoin, is having his Sydney house raided by Australian federal authorities.
Police arrived at Wright’s home in a Sydney suburb and began searching the garage.
Reuter’s Jane Wardell is also reporting that Wright’s offices are being raided:
BREAKING: Australian police also raiding the offices of reported bitcoin creator Craig Steven Wright aka Satoshi Nakamoto
— Jane Wardell (@TheJaneWardell) December 9, 2015
The AFP confirmed to Business Insider that officers were at Wright’s home but it was not related to the recent reports about him inventing bitcoin.
“The AFP presence at Mr Wright’s property is not associated with the media reporting overnight about bitcoins,” an AFP spokesperson said.
The raid is understood to be part of an Australian Tax Office investigation. Reports about Wright’s potential identity as one of the bitcoin founders were heavily based on documents from ATO investigations into Wright’s financial affairs.
Wright has extensive business interests, with his company DeMorgan being a leading player in the cryptocurrency industry. He holds a PhD in computer science and claims the fastest privately owned supercomputer.
Another company founded by Wright, Hotwire, attempted to create a bitcoin-based bank in 2014. The aim was to legitimise bitcoin by providing “traditional” banking services like savings accounts, credit and debit cards, loans and currency exchange.
Of the $76 million in backing for the bank, Wired claims the startup was backed by $23 million in bitcoin by Wright. At the time the legal status of bitcoin was still unclear.
Earlier today Business Insider reported on how Wright had claimed to have gained access to up to $54 million in cash rebates.
An ATO spokesperson told Business Insider: “Due to confidentially provisions in the tax act, the ATO is unable to comment on any indiviuals or entities tax affairs”.
Whether or not he is Nakamoto, Wright is reported to have had a sizeable amount of bitcoin – up to 1.5% of all existing bitcoin in 2013. The ATO ruled in late 2014 that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are an asset for capital gains tax purposes.
Business Insider does not suggest any wrongdoing on Wright’s part.
The Australian technology executive is just the latest person to be named in a quest to reveal the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of bitcoin. Nakamoto disappeared a number of years ago, although still holds a large cache of bitcoins.
The hunt for Nakamoto, which has almost exclusively relied on textual analysis and other circumstantial evidence, has seen more than ten other people named as Nakamoto. From Finnish developers to computer scientist Nick Szabo.
Newsweek famously claimed Nakamoto was Dorian Nakamoto in a cover story in 2014. Dorian, an unemployed engineer who claimed never to have heard of bitcoin, threatened to sue.
The search for Nakamoto is so feverish not least because the digital wallets controlled by bitcoin’s inventor hold roughly 1 million bitcoins. Worth more than $AU 570 million at the current bitcoin price and accounting for around 7% of all bitcoins.
As the Bitcoin economy becomes more sophisticated, more services are built on top of it and more people hold Bitcoins expecting their value to hold, there is a worry that someone with so many bitcoins could wreak havoc. The “Bitcoin whale” was able to send prices tumbling last year by dumping just 26,000 Bitcoins, for example.