In the early 1990s, long before he was suspected of being the elusive creator of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Brisbane-raised Craig Steven Wright worked as a saute chef, having trained in French cuisine.
He specialised in game meats and spent three years working with a catering company according to his lengthy and remarkable LinkedIn profile.
The hunt for the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, the supposed Bitcoin creator, now has global attention focussed on Wright and a deceased American computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman. The Australian Tax Office also honed in on Wright yesterday, raiding his Sydney home and office.
Business Insider interviewed Wright nearly two years ago when the CEO of Sydney tech company DeMorgan was getting ready open the world’s first Bitcoin-based bank, Denariuz. The company behind it, Hotwire PE, failed in 2014 and is now the subject of Wright’s dispute with the ATO.
His career over the last two decades has been varied and tech-based, including a stint at a fledging internet business Ozemail, back when a future prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was a major investor in the business in the mid-90s.
Wright’s summary of his working life runs to more than 2000 words on LinkedIn. It demonstrates attention to finer detail, especially when it comes to listing achievements. It’s the sort of CV that makes you wonder how the former high school student from Brisbane’s Padua Catholic College’s class of ’87 managed to fit it all in. In a black bow tie and jacket, his profile photo is reminiscent of James Bond. He cites News Ltd (now News Corp Australia), Vodafone, and Mahindra and Mahindra, India’s largest vehicle manufacturer, among his career consultancies, saying he was responsible for the creation of firewall and authentication procedure documents for News Ltd.
“Craig is one of the most highly qualified digital forensic practitioners globally. With over 10 years of direct digital forensic experience and more than 20 years in IT Security generally, Craig has not only worked to develop many of the techniques in common practice, but is also working to expand the field of knowledge,” one reference states.
On LinkedIn he says:
Respected executive and technology leader delivering proven ability to capitalize on enterprise-level technologies and pioneering strategies. A sought-after internationally recognized author and public speaker, delivering solutions to government and corporate departments in SCADA security, Cyber Security and Cyber Defense, as well as leading the uptake of IPv6 and Cloud technologies. Drives innovative strategies that result in the strategic redevelopment and invigoration of both startups and established firms. Futurist, thought leader and expert with proven innovation in program leadership, execution design and strategic redevelopment.
Wright was a lecturer at Charles Sturt University for five years until June 2015, saying he “developed and promoted the Masters degree in Digital Forensics at CSU”, and now describes himself as a “multi-certified expert in enterprise security and cloud strategies”.
“I am a bit of an academic junkie and go from degree to degree as a sort of hobby, so this all adds to the level of being over-qualified for most things,” he says in a separate biography.
He’s gained a series of masters qualifications from different universities, but mostly CSU, where he also completed a doctorate in computer science in 2012.
Wright also cites a degree in international commercial law from Northumbria University, further qualifications from the University of Newcastle and is currently undertaking a Master of Science and Finance at University of London.
In addition to his consulting engagements he has also authored several books and articles on digital forensics.
Dr Craig Steven Wright’s first PhD is in theology: comparative religious and classical studies, achieved in 2003 with a dissertation titled “Gnarled roots of a creation theory”.
“If you need to ever need to know of Dionysus, Vesta, Menrva, Ceres (Roman Goddess of the Corn, Earth, Harvest) or other mythological characters – I am your man. I could even hold a conversation on Eileithyia, the Greek Goddess of childbirth and her Roman rebirth as Lucina,” he says on LinkedIn.
The former Catholic has been a trustee for the Uniting Church in NSW since 2007.
After school, Wright studied engineering at the University of Queensland, switching to computer science in his fourth year. He was working as a cook while simultaneously focussed on nuclear physics and nuclear magnetic resonance, then fuel sciences.
There was a stint at Corporate Express (formerly WPA) a Sydney business IT solutions company, around the same period, where he described his role as “general gopher and person people blamed when computers failed”, before the move to Ozemail in 1996 for a year “managing a bunch of engineers”. In April 1997 Wright says he moved to the Australian Stock Exchange for 14 months dealing with security and firewalls. During this time he was also studying fuel sciences.
In November 1997, he launched DeMorgan, a company he continues to run as CEO to this day. (Augustus De Morgan was a 19th century British mathematician and logician).
DeMorgan is described as “a pre-IPO Australian listed company focused on alternative currency, next generation banking and reputational and educational products with a focus on security and creating a simple user experience”.
The business has more than a dozen companies focussed on cryto-currency under its umbrella, including his proposed bank, Denariuz, while others are directed towards online education.
In May this year DeMorgan Ltd announced it had received $54 million under AusIndustry’s R&D Tax Incentive Scheme, which gives a cash rebate of 45 cents for every $1 spent on R&D.
The company’s goal was to have one of the top 20 super computers in the world and the fastest computer managed in the southern hemisphere. Wright announced a week after the R&D tax news that he’d personally run a free, five-week webinar course on supercomputers in conjunction with CSU.
He’s the author of several books, most recently the “The IT Regulatory and Standards Compliance Handbook”, and amid regular consultancies in digital forensics, was executive VP for strategic development at London’s Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science.
But his latest business, Hotwire Pre-Emptive Intelligence Group, has been less successful. Launched in June 2013, it was placed into voluntary administration less than 12 months later in April 2014, with debts of more than $12.8 million. Creditors met again on Monday to discuss the company’s future.
Wright said the business aimed to “help the world to get ready for tomorrow today” and “inspire enduring optimism and trust”.
Its goal was R&D on e-learning and e-payment systems and software, acquiring software through a range of complex bitcoin-related transactions. Hotwire had 44 employees who were made redundant.
Today, tax officials raided Wright’s home and office and as Business Insider revealed earlier, Hotwire has been involved in a bitter dispute with the ATO over tax claims, and the company has been hit with a $1.7 million penalty by the tax office.
The business is a separate entity to DeMorgan, but as administrator McGrath Nicol notes, there are a number of related party transactions involved.
Among the debts, $7,231,657.68 is allocated towards related third party unsecured creditors, plus one DeMorgan company, Cloudcroft Pty Ltd (“Cloudcroft”), owed $1,174,373.95 after it acquired Howire’s employee claims. Another, Panopticrypt Pty Ltd, was due to give the administrators $2 million to distribute to unsecured creditors, but when McGrath Nicol wrote its report a fortnight for the December 7 meeting, it was still awaiting the funds, originally due 13 months earlier on October 31, 2014.
“Panopticrypt indicated that it has no funds available to it to meet the payment,”McGrath Nicol wrote, adding that “Panopticrypt indicated that it was reliant on a receipt of a tax refund to enable it to pay”.
As the administrator noted, it was a similar reliance on a tax refund that led to Hotwire’s failure.
One man who worked with Wright at Hotwire, Steven Lipke, is among 10 people who’ve posted testimonies for their colleague on LinkedIn.
It reads “Craig is a little bit crazy, as in Orville & Wilbur Wright craziness of deciding to add an engine to a glider. … a true visionary”.
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