Who is Paul ‘Solotshi’ Le Roux? Is the 46-Year Old Criminal Mastermind the Real Satoshi Nakamoto?
The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto continues to hang over the bitcoin community. An article recently published online, however, wants to convince you that a 46-year old criminal named Paul “Solotshi” Calder Le Roux is the true creator of bitcoin.
As discussed by Invest In Blockchain’s Jeremy Wall this past week, new evidence suggests that Satoshi Nakamoto is Paul Calder Le Roux, best-known as the creator of encryption software E4M and TrueCrypt. This is the same encryption software Satoshi Nakamoto “likely used” to lock up his 1 million BTC, writes Wall (Wright, in his court case, claims Satoshi’s 1 million BTC stash is locked using TrueCrypt).
Throughout the article, Jeremy Wall tries to convince you that there are a number of similarities between Paul Le Roux and Satoshi Nakamoto – from their libertarian-style political leanings to the way they write.
Oh, and did we mention that Le Roux is currently in prison in the United States for ordering the assassination of six people?
One of the biggest hints that Paul Calder Le Roux could be Satoshi is an un-redacted link from the ongoing Kleiman v. Wright case, where the family of deceased computer security expert Dave Kleiman is suing self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto Craig Wright over bitcoins the two reportedly mined during the early days of bitcoin – including the fabled 1 million BTC stash attributed to Satoshi. Satoshi’s stash has never been touched.
Ready to dive into whether or not Paul Calder Le Roux is the real person behind Satoshi Nakamoto? Let’s take a closer look at some of the points put forward in Jeremy Wall’s article.
Who is Paul Calder Le Roux?
Paul Calder Le Roux is a “brilliant programmer” and cryptography advocate with quite a backstory.
He was born on December 24, 1972 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe). He was given up for adoption. His birth certificate has no mention of a father, and his first name is listed as ‘unknown’. His mother’s identity is also unknown. Some sources claim Le Roux’s mother was an impoverished teenager. Other sources claim Le Roux’s maternal grandmother was married to a U.S. senator.
After being adopted by a family in Rhodesia, Le Roux and his family would move to South Africa fleeing the political events of the 1980s when Robert Mugabe assumed power. His adopted father started a lucrative coal mining operation management company in South Africa.
As a teenager, Le Roux became interested in programming and computers. After dropping out of high school, Le Roux enrolled in a local programming course, completing a one-year program in just eight weeks.
Le Roux would eventually leave South Africa for the UK, where he met his wife in 1994. The two lived in the United States for six months before settling in Australia.
Today, Le Roux holds Australian, South African, and Zimbabwean citizenship.
In 1999, Le Roux created the open source Windows disk encryption software program E4M, based on the acronym ‘Encryption for the Masses’.
Later, somebody used E4M’s code to create a more advanced open source encryption tool called TrueCrypt. It’s unknown who created TrueCrypt, although Le Roux denies any involvement with the project (coworkers he worked with during this time period, however, claim he was likely involved with TrueCrypt).
During the ensuing years, Le Roux divorced his wife in Australia, then moved to Hong Kong and then the Netherlands. He married a Dutch citizen, then was involved with several companies over the early 2000s.
One of the most successful companies was an online pharmacy of dubious legality. RX Limited grew rapidly over the years, selling many popular drugs online.
This is where things get whacky: Le Roux started to acquire logging and mining operations in Africa and worldwide. He relocated his family to Manila and continued to expand RX Limited.
His enterprise continued growing. He acquired gold bars, diamonds, and silver grain, storing them at his company’s financial headquarters in Hong Kong. Le Roux hired former Israeli elite soldiers to guard his stash, transferring his wealth by private planes and boats. He started several shell companies in Hong Kong to hide his activity even further.
The cartel’s operations expanded beyond mining. Le Roux was reportedly involved in Iranian arms deals, Somali weapons contracts, the hiring of hitmen, multiple assassinations, and other shady international dealings.
During this time, Le Roux would use fake passports to mask his identity. He had a legitimate Congolese diplomatic passport, however, issued in August 2008 that listed his name as Solotshi Calder Le Roux, Paul, with a birth date of December 24, 1982.
The Arrest of Paul Le Roux
Throughout these years, Le Roux was being tracked by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA was chasing Le Roux around the world.
In 2012, the DEA used wiretaps to learn about a shipment of ammonium nitrate fertilizer being passed through a Le Roux-owned company in Hong Kong. Several of Le Roux’s employees, including the ex-Israeli soldiers we mentioned above, were arrested while trying to liquidate his assets.
Le Roux himself was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, around this time, arranging supplies for a methamphetamine operation with a cartel in Colombia.
Unknown to Le Roux, his contacts with the cartel in Colombia were actually DEA agents in disguise. However, these DEA agents knew Le Roux could not be extradited under Brazilian law because he was the father of a Brazilian child. So they lured him to a country that did have an extradition treaty in place: Liberia. Le Roux flew to Monrovia, Liberia in 2012 and was promptly arrested by Liberian police. He immediately tried to bribe police, but the police handed him over to DEA agents instead.
The DEA shipped Le Roux to the United States, where he ‘flipped’, agreeing to cooperate with authorities. Le Roux signed a proffer agreement, agreeing to plead guilty to two charges in exchange for immunity against prosecution for any other crimes he might admit to.
After agreeing to this plea deal, Le Roux immediately admitted to arranging or participating in seven assassinations for which he could not be prosecuted under the terms of his plea deal. It’s very likely this plea deal helped Le Roux avoid a death sentence.
Le Roux’s cooperation led to the arrest of at least 11 people. The DEA continued to conduct sting operations against Le Roux’s associates from 2012 up to today.
Ultimately, Le Roux led an extremely interesting life, jumping between countries while running an international cartel. He has been described as “a brilliant programmer and a vicious cartel boss, who became a prized U.S. government asset.”
Why the Sudden Interest in Paul Calder Le Roux as Satoshi Nakamoto?
To date, Paul Calder Le Roux has not appeared on any of these lists – at least none that we can find. So why is there a sudden interest in the guy?
The sudden interest is linked to the ongoing court case between the estate of Dave Kleiman and Craig Wright. New evidence has emerged from the case in the form of a Wikipedia page that was not redacted.
Specifically, Wright recently introduced Document 187 into the case, titled, “Dr. Craig Wright’s Motion for Protective Order”. Wright introduced this document to help prove that Satoshi’s $11 billion of bitcoins are his own. The document includes sensitive information about Wright’s ties to criminals, including Wright’s involvement in the apprehension and incarceration of these criminals.
This information was redacted to ensure the criminals would not be able to seek revenge against Dr. Wright.
Unfortunately, whoever was redacting the document made a crucial mistake: they forgot to blackout a single footnote that identifies one criminal kingpin in particular: Paul Le Roux. The footnote leads to Le Roux’s Wikipedia page as well as a Daily Mail article that calls Le Roux a:
“Real-life Bond villain behind a cocaine and gun empire spanning four continents who’s now turned super-snitch.”
Based on this document, it seems Le Roux is one of the real-life criminals from whom Wright is worried about repercussions.
Does This Really Mean Le Roux is Satoshi Nakamoto?
So far, we’ve established a few basic points:
- Le Roux is a criminal mastermind who ran a drug and international weapons cartel in the late 2000s and early 2010s
- Le Roux created popular open source encryption software E4M in the early 2000s, then was possibly involved in the creation of TrueCrypt around 2004
- Le Roux is mentioned in the Wright v. Kleiman lawsuit as one of the criminals Wright helped to prosecute
- Satoshi’s 1 million bitcoins are reportedly locked up using TrueCrypt encryption
None of this means Le Roux is Satoshi Nakamoto. So how does Le Roux fit into the Satoshi Nakamoto puzzle? What other evidence do we have that Le Roux created bitcoin?
The idea proposed by Invest In Blockchain is that Wright is scared of repercussions from Le Roux because Wright is in possession of encrypted hard drives containing Le Roux’s stash of Satoshi’s famous 1 million BTC.
Document 187 – the one with the unredacted footnote mentioning Le Roux – extensively discusses an unnamed individual. There’s a “strong assumption” that Le Roux is this unnamed individual.
The document suggests that Wright was an employee of the ‘unnamed individual’ (i.e. Le Roux), and that Wright was one of the informants who helped bring Le Roux down in 2012.
Because of this, Wright is in possession of Le Roux’s hard drives, but cannot access the 1 million bitcoin stash inside because the bitcoins are locked behind TrueCrypt encryption. Wright has spent years trying to crack the hard drives with no success.
Calvin Ayre is also involved in this conspiracy theory. Wright’s close friend, Canadian billionaire Calvin Ayre, has created warehouses of computers to try to crack the encrypted hard drives. Ayre has disguised these warehouses as cryptocurrency mining farms. In reality, they’re dedicated to cracking the TrueCrypt encryption.
Here's how Wright explains the issue in the court documents in the Kleiman v. Wright case:
“I have files of Dave’s that I cannot access now. These are TrueCrypt partitions. We held backups for the other, but no passwords. I cannot access these. If I cannot finds a key or a password on these, I do not believe that I can on yours. Dave was smarter than I was in some ways. He broke his wallets into many 50BTC sized addresses. I left several large addresses that are not easy to move without making the world notice.”
More Evidence Connecting Paul Le Roux to Satoshi Nakamoto
Wright’s court case aside, what other evidence do we have that Paul Le Roux is Satoshi? Here are some of the facts presented by Invest In Blockchain:
Paul Le Roux Used a Number of Names Over the Years, Including ‘Solotshi’
There’s reason to believe that Satoshi Nakamoto is one of several names used by Paul Le Roux over the years. Other names he has proven to have used include:
- John Bernard Bowlins (also known as Bernard John Bowlins) on a fake Zimbabwean passport and birth certificate
- Johan (also known as John Paul) Leroux or Leraux
- Johan William Smit on a fake Zimbabwean birth certificate
- William Vaugn on a fake birth certificate
- Solotshi Calder Le Roux on a legitimate diplomatic Congolese passport
Le Roux has a history of using fake names – including one pseudonym in particular that sounds remarkably like Satoshi, introduced around the same time (2008) as the Satoshi Nakamoto identity appeared online.
Le Roux is a “Brilliant Programmer” Familiar with Encryption and C++, Just Like Satoshi
One of the problems with Wright’s claim of being Satoshi is that he doesn’t actually seem to know much about programming. All evidence, meanwhile, points towards Satoshi being a brilliant programmer.
Le Roux created E4M in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was described as a brilliant programmer with an obsession for cryptography and privacy during this time period. It’s also widely believed that he later worked on TrueCrypt. Coworkers who worked with Le Roux during this time period, for example, seem to believe he worked on TrueCrypt.
Le Roux Published a Satoshi-Like Manifesto
Le Roux has a history of publishing manifestos online. In these manifestos, Le Roux published ideas similar to Satoshi.
There was a ‘Politics’ section of the E4M website, for example, where Le Roux stated the following, according to Wikipedia:
“In the ‘Politics’ section of the E4M website, 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 manifesto concluded with a statement 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.”
Satoshi and Le Roux Disappeared Around the Same Time
Le Roux ran his criminal enterprise throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s before being arrested in 2012.
Satoshi’s last public statement, meanwhile, was in early 2011 when he posted that he was about to “move on to other things.”
Invest In Blockchain claims that Le Roux “transition from his field of software development to cartel boss” around this time. It’s possible Le Roux stepped away from the bitcoin development scene because it was around the time when the DEA started actively pursuing RX Limited, Le Roux’s illegal online pharmaceutical business.
This is what Le Roux’s Wikipedia page has to say about this time period:
“Around 2011 Le Roux began to disappear for long periods of time, with none of his employees knowing his whereabouts. As US authorities were closing in on him, Le Roux took up temporary residence in Rio de Janeiro and planned his move there.”
In other words, Le Roux and Satoshi disappeared around the same time.
Someone Posted a Bitcoin-like Forum Post from the Netherlands in 2002
The final piece of evidence linking Le Roux to Satoshi is a mysterious forum post from 2002. That forum post has been widely circulated across the bitcoin community as a possible early post from Satoshi, seven years before bitcoin was released.
“I have this idea of a future with virtual peer to peer banking. A kind of decentralized and secured system. 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 system would have a fixed total amount of money. But each money unit (say virtual coin) is divisible indefinitely. So a kind of deflation would replace inflation. The total value of the money in the world would be a fixed number…”
The IP address of this forum post has been traced to the Netherlands – a country where Le Roux lived around this time period.
Final Word: Is Paul Le Roux the Real Satoshi Nakamoto?
The story of Paul Le Roux is so interesting that it deserves to be made into a movie even if he isn’t Satoshi Nakamoto. Jeremy Wall at Invest In Blockchain tells a very fascinating story about how Le Roux could be Satoshi Nakamoto.
It’s certainly possible! Why else would Le Roux be mentioned in the Wright v. Kleiman case?
However, there are also issues with this theory. As pointed out by Wall himself, Le Roux was already establishing himself as a crime boss in 2009, when Satoshi was actively developing and refining the bitcoin project. Would Le Roux really have time to run an international arms smuggling cartel while also actively creating bitcoin?
Wall sums it up much better than I could:
“However, if Wright’s dubious connection with Le Roux is true, and “Solotshi” is, in fact, Satoshi, it would be one of the most incredible stories ever told, and Quentin Tarantino would already be jumping on the film rights.”
Check out the full article from Jeremy Wall here. It’s well worth a read. Credit also goes to an anonymous Redditor using the name /u/chiamalgoia, who posted on /r/bitcoin 21 days ago after spotting the unredacted Le Roux link in the court documents. That Redditor was also the first one suggesting that Wright was employed by Le Roux.
Both Jeremy Wall and the anonymous Redditor have comprehensively introduced a new character to the ‘Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?’ discussion: Paul ‘Solotshi’ Calder Le Roux.