One of the most enduring mysteries of modern times has produced another enthralling twist. Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous and enigmatic creator, has not been seen online in more than eight years.
Evidence has now surfaced that points to a new Satoshi candidate, whose known life has a number of parallels with that of Bitcoin’s inventor. His name is Paul Le Roux and, if proven to be Satoshi, there is a good reason why his 1 million BTC hasn’t moved – the Rhodesian has been in jail since 2012.
Craig Wright, Paul Le Roux, and the Badly Redacted Document
The Kleiman v. Wright lawsuit unfolding in the Florida courts has been filled with misdirection, red herrings, mistruths, forgeries, and bizarre theories, often floated by the defendant Craig Wright. Document 187, “Dr. Craig Wright’s Motion For Protective Order,” was recently filed with heavy redaction because Wright supposedly “has a well-founded fear that these criminals and their associates would seek retribution if they learned of his involvement in their apprehension and incarceration.”
Someone forgot to redact one of the corresponding footnotes, however, enabling a sharp-eyed sleuth to identify the master criminal in question: Paul Le Roux. The 46-year-old cartel boss is a character as flamboyant as Wright himself, but cut from a very different cloth. Readers may already be familiar with Le Roux’s life story, which surfaced in a seven-part series on Atavist and subsequent book titled “The Mastermind.” As the blurb summarizes:
He was a brilliant programmer and a vicious cartel boss, who became a prized U.S. government asset.
It has now been suggested that Paul Le Roux may be Satoshi Nakamoto – and that Craig Wright is in possession of encrypted hard drives containing Le Roux’s multi-billion-dollar stash of bitcoins. It’s a crazy theory, and yet, on closer inspection, there is a prima facie case for Bitcoin’s mastermind being criminal mastermind Le Roux.
Paul Le Roux Built a Criminal Empire – But Did He Also Build Bitcoin?
As his Wikipedia page – the very same page which escaped redaction in the Kleiman v. Wright case – notes, “Paul Calder Le Roux is a former programmer, former criminal cartel boss and informant to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He created E4M, an open-source free Windows disk encryption software program, in 1999, and is a suspected creator of the open-source TrueCrypt, which is based on E4M’s code.”
Then it drops a bomb: “Le Roux is currently in US custody for ordering the assassinations of six people.”
If any screenwriters mulling a Satoshi Nakamoto movie are searching for inspiration, they just got a huge shot of it. With a career that’s included logging, precious metals mining, gold smuggling, land deals, drug shipments, arms trafficking and money laundering, Le Roux is a one-man movie waiting to happen – and that’s before the Bitcoin connection is thrown into the mix. In one of the many passports Le Roux owned, he goes by the Satoshi-like name of “Solotshi” – and that’s just the beginning of the curious coincidences.
A Daily Mail article which also slipped through the redactor’s net, leaving a trace of the URL visible in document 187 cited at the outset, calls Le Roux a “real-life Bond villain behind a cocaine and gun empire spanning four continents who’s now turned super-snitch” and quotes U.S. agents as calling him “a very bad guy.”
Satoshi and Solotshi
As the anon who posted on 4chan’s /biz/ messageboard on May 12, after spotting Le Roux’s name in the Wright case postulated, “Bitcoin was a project of a evil genius … Paul Solotshi Calder Le Roux. He intended it simply for the purpose of money laundering … Unfortunately, soon after he went quiet with the Satoshi identity, he was captured by law enforcement, and he’s going to spend the rest of his life rotting in jail cell.”
Even if Le Roux did create Bitcoin, it does not follow that money laundering was his goal: it would likelier have been an extension of his obsession with cryptography, which can be traced back to the 90s. Before Paul Le Roux broke bad, he was by all accounts a brilliant programmer and privacy ideologue. In 1997, he began work on E4M (Encryption for the Masses), software which “is capable of encrypting entire disks, and optionally of plausible deniability (denying the existence of an encrypted volume),” Wikipedia explains. It continues:
In the “Politics” section of the E4M website [archive], Le Roux published a kind of manifesto stating that governments are increasingly relying on electronic data gathering. Citing projects such as Echelon, linked to the five nation states which would become known as the “Five Eyes” more than a decade later, he stated that encryption is the only way to preserve civil liberties.
The E4M manifesto finishes: “Strong Encryption is the mechanism with which to combat these intrusions, preserve your rights, and guarantee your freedoms into the information age and beyond – Paul Le Roux, Author, Encryption for the Masses.”
10 Clues That Point to Le Roux Building Bitcoin
For those intent on comparing Satoshi and Le Roux’s personas for similarities, there are several attributes and actions that align – plus a few that don’t. Given that both entities were adept at assuming false personas and concealing their natural language and idiosyncrasies, identification is no easy task. Here’s what’s known about the pair that points to them being the same person:
- The curious Satoshi/Solotshi monikers.
- Both were programmers familiar with C++.
- Both had a strong interest in cryptography and privacy.
- Both were wary of authority.
- Both had an interest in online gambling – Bitcoin’s initial code had a poker client included.
- Both were well aware of the difficulty with traditional payment systems, Le Roux on account of the illegal prescription drug racket he was running.
- Satoshi’s spelling and language – “analyse, colour, defence, bloody, hard” is consistent with Rhodesian Le Roux’s.
- Satoshi disappeared in early 2011 to “move on to other things” around the time that Le Roux was transitioning from software genius to cartel boss.
- With tens of millions of dollars in cash, Le Roux would have had no need to cash out his BTC once the price began rising.
- If anyone could have hidden wallets containing 1 million BTC, it would have been the creator of disk encryption software TrueCrypt.
And then there’s this post from 2002, seven years before Bitcoin was released:
It doesn’t read like Satoshi’s voice, but it does read an awfully lot like someone’s early idea of Bitcoin. The IP address of the author has supposedly been traced to the Netherlands – a country where Le Roux once lived.
For all of the surface evidence that suggests Le Roux could have been Satoshi, not all of the points align. In 2009, for example, when Satoshi was diligently refining Bitcoin, Le Roux was already dabbling in drug smuggling and gun running. Would it have been possible to maintain such a double life, one chaotic and the other scholarly?
A Credible Satoshi or 4D Chess From Craig Wright?
In an IRC chat dating from around the time of the Bitcoin Cash ABC/SV split, user “CSW” (Craig Wright) connects Bitcointalk and r/Bitcoin moderator Theymos to Paul Le Roux, claiming that the pair used to be partners “before Le Roux was arrested”. He also asserts that Theymos is still in the “pharma spam business,” which dovetails with Le Roux’s illegal pharmaceutical business.
There is a caveat to all of this, of course: Craig Wright is a habitual liar, whose every utterance must be fact-checked. Given that Le Roux’s name has been linked with Satoshi since late 2018, it is possible that Wright latched onto it, and wove it into the fanfic he’s been crafting for the Kleiman case. As such, any evidence from the mouth of the man known as Faketoshi should be treated with caution. Few, aside from Calvin Ayre, believe that Craig Wright created Bitcoin, but many believe that by luck or design he could have been lurking in the background from near the start.
Could this involvement have been due to Wright serving as an informant on Le Roux, himself now an informant following his arrest in September 2012? It sounds fanciful, but it’s certainly an intriguing notion. As one anon theorized, “Craig Wright was an employee of Le Roux, who was vaguely aware of the bitcoin project. Craig was an informant who helped bring down Le Roux, and after his arrest, Craig managed (via long time friend and partner in crime, Dave Kleiman) to get his hands on the wallets that hold a million bitcoins, but unfortunately for Craig, all of Solotshi’s coins are locked away in secure TrueCrypt volumes (TrueCrypt being another software that Le Roux developed). He has been trying for years to crack them but with no success.”
“Another of Craig’s long time friends, Calvin Ayre, has set up warehouses of computers to try to crack Solotshi’s password and unlock the vast fortunes; his mining activity is simply a front to make these massive datacenters look legitimate. Craig is being set up as ‘the real satoshi’ so that when the coins are finally unlocked, they can legitimately sell them off.”
If the Rhodesian crime boss is Satoshi Nakamoto, it means that the two biggest contributors to Bitcoin’s early success, Paul Le Roux and Ross Ulbricht, are both in the custody of U.S. authorities. There they will likely see out the rest of their lives, while the rest of the world profits from the innovations of these flawed geniuses. Interestingly, in little more than 24 hours, Gotsatoshi.com promises to reveal the identity of Bitcoin’s creator. While the cryptosphere will not be holding its breath in anticipation, the countdown adds further intrigue to the most enduring mystery of the digital age.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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