Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Mt. Gox's Mark Karpeles Found Guilty, Given 2.6-Year Suspended Sentence

MtGox chief found guilty of inflating cash balance Japanese Court Finds Former Mt Gox CEO Guilty of Data Manipulation
Jean Garcia | 17 March, 2019, 05:31

The Tokyo District Court had previously made a decision to move Mt. Gox out of bankruptcy and allow the exchange's assets to be distributed among former customers.

Prosecutors had claimed that Karpeles had embezzled some 341 million yen ($3 million) of clients' money and splashed it on a lavish lifestyle. The incident with Mt.Gox pushed the country to introduce a licensing framework for cryptocurrency exchanges.

However, the charges faced by Karpeles, a self-confessed computer "geek", do not relate directly to the exchange's dramatic collapse.

Though Karpeles claimed to have found 200,000 bitcoins out of the missing cryptoassets, things still fell apart for the exchange.

From time to time, Mt.Gox liquidates its cryptocurrency holdings and gives the fiat equivalent to its clients. But the bankruptcy also prompted Japan's government to decide how to treat bitcoin, and preceded a push by local regulators to licence virtual currency exchanges.

The court's decision marks the closure of another chapter in the Mt. Gox story. Due to the lack of auditing structure and vigilance, as well as the previous thefts at Mt. Gox, it is not far-fetched to believe the "sinister" actions of Mark Karpeles were no more than negligent financial monitoring infrastructure and poor operational security procedures.

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After all the litigation, a verdict was finally handed down to the now 33-year-old Karpeles. However, he was convicted of tampering with financial records as he both played around with account numbers as well as mixing his personal finances with that of the exchange. "[T] here is no excuse for the defendant, who is an engineer with expert knowledge, to abuse his status and authority to perform clever criminal acts". If Karpeles stays out of trouble for four years, then he'll do no prison time at all.

We find the charge of electronic record tampering to be true and that it deserves punishment, but there's no criminal evidence re embezzlement (dominant or reserve type) or violations of company laws, resulting in a not guilty ruling.

The collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange in early 2014 is credited for the multi-year bear market that followed, taking Bitcoin down from around $800 to a low of $150 in 2015.

"Upon discovery the BTC were moved to a safer environment and lawyers worked on how to announce this to the court", Karpeles said.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Channel News Asia, and Fortune.

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