The Australian who may have invented Bitcoin claimed to land $54M in taxpayer-funded rebates

Picture: Gizmodo

The Australian government may have inadvertently backed the inventor of Bitcoin to the tune of up to $54 million.

Business incubator AusIndustry provides research and development support through its R&D Tax Incentive Scheme.

Under the scheme, a company which turns over less than $20 million is eligible to apply for a cash rebate of 45 cents for every dollar spent on research and development activity.

According to a press release in May, 2015, DeMorgan Ltd succeeded in its application for the rebate.

DeMorgan was founded by Craig Steven Wright, an Australian businessman based in Sydney. Gizmodo reports Wright and a friend, American computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman, are the latest suspects in the global hunt for the real identity of Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. Kleiman, a US Army veteran who lived in Palm Beach County, Florida, died in April, 2013.

A week after sending out the press release, DeMorgan announced it would “give something back” by running a free, five-week webinar course on Australian supercomputers in conjunction with IT Masters and Charles Sturt University in Australia.

But the bulk of the money, according to DeMorgan:

allowed us to tune our Supercomputers to an Rmax (Tflop/s): 2,468.15 and 939.67 respectively. We expect that this will place us in the top 20 super computers globally and the fastest computer managed in the southern hemisphere

AusIndustry’s Canberra HQ. Picture: Google

That means DeMorgan were able to prove to AusIndustry that it had spent $120 million on R&D activities in the 2014/2015 financial year, all while turning over less than $20 million. A 45 cent rebate on $120 million works out to $54 million.

Which means DeMorgan either had some heavy backers, or a decent war chest to play with.

Wired reports that Wright indeed had a sizeable stash of Bitcoin. In June 2013, he had a startup, Hotwire, which was founded with $23 million in Bitcoin owned by Wright.

That amounted to 1.5 per cent of all existing Bitcoin at the time, which Wired points out is “a strangely large stash for an unknown player in the bitcoin world”.

Wright also had backers in February, 2014, as he spoke of launching a Bitcoin-based bank, “Denariuz”, out of Hotwire.

He planned to launch Denariuz with a global pool of more than 100,000 Bitcoin from backers, at the time worth $74 million, so it’s not inconceivable that Wright would have been able to burn through $120 million in R&D activities around that time.

We’ve asked AusIndustry to confirm whether DeMorgan received the $54 million rebate and will update when we hear back from them