Australia police search home of ‘bitcoin founder’

A Federal police officer walks through the garage at the home in Sydney of the alleged creator of Bitcoin. Picture: AP

A Federal police officer walks through the garage at the home in Sydney of the alleged creator of Bitcoin. Picture: AP

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Australian police have raided the Sydney home and business premises of a man that technology news sites have claimed is the founder of virtual currency bitcoin.

The searches were related to a tax investigation, not recent media reports on the virtual currency, according to a statement from the Australian Federal Police.

Federal officers and tax officials refused to answer questions as they left the house in a Sydney suburb hauling two black roller suitcases.

Technology publications Wired and Gizmodo published reports this week identifying an Australian businessman as bitcoin’s likely inventor.

Since bitcoin’s birth in 2009, the currency’s creator has remained a mystery.

In March last year, American Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto denied he was the inventor after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story linking the currency to him.

Attempts to reach the Sydney businessman that was reported to be Mr Nakamoto were unsuccessful.

A man answered a mobile phone number belonging to the businessman’s wife. When a journalist asked whether she was speaking with the person named as Mr Nakamoto, he asked who was calling. When told he was speaking to a reporter, the man said, “Sorry. Not here,” and hung up. Voicemails left on the man’s mobile and office numbers were not returned.

His LinkedIn profile lists him as working for a Sydney company that focuses on “alternative currency” and “next generation banking”.

The police search of the man’s home in the wealthy northern Sydney suburb of Gordon lasted several hours and drew a steady stream of perplexed neighbours into the quiet, tree-lined street.

Many described the man as quiet and somewhat stand-offish, and said they had noticed the family kept an unusual amount of electronics running in the sunroom at the front of their two-storey brick house.

None had seen the family yesterday. Letters overflowed the mailbox and the rubbish bins were full.

“He has his computer running quite often,” said a teenage neighbour, who declined to give his name.

The teenager said the family had lived at the house for around a year and has two children, a dog and several hens. The family drives a Jaguar and a Lexus, but rents the property, the teenager said.

He had no idea he had been named as the alleged founder of bitcoin.

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