Has a New Satoshi Nakamoto Candidate Been Identified?

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Satoshi Nakamoto continues, despite the claims of certain Australian egomaniacs, to be an enigma. Many names have come and gone over the past ten years of individuals who could have been behind the groundbreaking invention that is Bitcoin, but none has ever stuck. Now a new name has been thrown into the mix, a name that belongs to a man whose gun-toting, drug-fueled past makes John McAfee look like a kindergarten teacher. Buckle up folks, we’re meeting Paul Le Roux.

From Mock Executions to Cryptography

Paul Le Roux is a 46-year-old former cartel boss, arms dealer, drug smuggler, and DEA informant who is currently serving time on a litany of related charges. On one hand this may not seem like the CV of a cyber genius who likes nothing more than bashing out some code, but you’d be wrong – long before he made his money arranging arms deals with Iran and Somalia, carrying out mock executions on call center staff, and smuggling gold from his base in the Philippines, he created encryption software E4M and TrueCrypt, the latter being the method likely used by Satoshi Nakamoto to lock up his 1 million BTC. Le Roux is also considered to be the author of a forum post in 2002 that called for “a future with virtual peer to peer banking”, which included the following statement:

Gone would be the times that governments and banks can track and interfere with our money transfers. Or even interfere with the total amount of money on earth. My envisioned sytem (sic) would have a fixed total amount of money. But each money unit (say virtual coin) is divisable (sic) indefinitely. So a kind of deflation would replace inflation. The total value of the money in the world would be a fixed number. It poses no problem for liquidity, because the currency can be divided anytime. However maybe people will not spend their money much, because it’s value will increase often.

If that doesn’t describe what Bitcoin would eventually become then it’s a damned close guess.

And There’s More

There are plenty of other enticing titbits that link Le Roux to the creation of Bitcoin, including:

  • A redacted line from Craig Wright’s testimony in Kleiman v. Wright links Wright to Le Roux, with the suggestion that Wright holds the hard drive that contains the famously locked 1 million BTC but needs Le Roux’s help to decrypt it
  • Le Roux owned a number of passports, one of which was in the name of Solotshi Calder Le Roux – too close for coincidence?
  • Le Roux was a brilliant programmer with an anarchistic streak. He advocated the use of encryption to protect personal information, stating that “strong encryption is the mechanism with which to combat these intrusions, preserve your rights, and guarantee your freedoms into the information age and beyond.”
  • Le Roux left the world of software development to pursue his cartel endeavors around 2011, during which time very few people knew where he was or what he was doing. December 11, 2010 was the last post-Satoshi Nakamoto made on the BitcoinTalk forum, and he disappeared for good a few months later to “move on to other things”.

Case Closed?

Despite all the above evidence, there are important caveats to bear in mind before we get too excited. For example, we can’t be sure that the 2002 forum post was from Le Roux – all we know is that Satoshi and Le Roux shared similar writing styles, and the forum post was similar to these. It is also entirely possible that Wright has fabricated the evidence linking him to Le Roux in order to simulate a link to early encryption, which is why it was redacted – after all, he does have previous when it comes to document forging. Finally, by 2009 Le Roux was involved in logging, gold smuggling, precious metals mining, land deals, drug shipments, arms trafficking, and money laundering. Could he really have done all this and refine Bitcoin at the same time?

Gaps Leave Doubts

Without doubt Le Roux had the means, motive, and opportunity to create Bitcoin, and indeed in many ways it is a more compelling case than others. However, there are too many gaps in the story to really be sure of anything, and it’s an exercise in speculation to fill in the gaps with wishful thinking and to twist what little evidence we do have to fit a certain narrative. The only way we’ll know for sure is if Le Roux decides that he wants his one million BTC back from Craig Wright. Now that would be something to watch…