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Bitcoin inventor search shifts to Sydney

The creator of the virtual currency bitcoin remains unmasked after fresh media speculation that he could be a Sydney businessman. The latest claim was made by the magazine Wired and website Gizmodo.

Australian federal police said searches of the home and premises of the entrepreneur Craig Steven Wright were related to a tax probe and not recent media reports on who created Bitcoin in 2009.

Wired said leaked emails, documents and web archives pointed strongly to Wright being the creator's pseudonym "Nakamoto," but police leaving Wright's home in the northern Sydney suburb of Gordon refused to answer related questions.

Neighbors said the tenant of the rental property had an unusual amount of electronics.

Creator could hold key

Unmasking the "real" Nakamoto could be the key in the future development of

the crypto-currency,

say experts, because its complex algorithms are known by only a handful of market players

Bitcoin researchers believe the creator could still be holding up to 1 million bitcoins, which if sold today in one batch, would fetch $414 million (381 million euros), but also erode the currency's value.

Reuters said Wright had not commented publicly on the Wired and Gizmodo reports. Various media outlets reported their attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

Past claims flawed

Media have tripped up several times over recent claims to have unmasked the creator.

In March 2014, a Newsweek author claimed to have traced the identity to a Japanese American, Dorian Nakamoto, who subsequently denied that he was the inventor.

Bitcoins are not distributed by a central bank or backed by physical assets such as gold, but circulate in a decentralized system, enabling users to make electronic purchases and sales.

ipj/jil (AP, Reuters)

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