CEO of Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox Mark Karpeles charged for embezzlement, pleads not guilty.
TOKYO: Mt Gox CEO pleaded not guilty today to charges of embezzlement of hundreds of millions dollars-worth of bitcoins and cash, reports Nikkei business daily.
The 32-year-old French national Mark Karpeles denied the charges made against him at the Tokyo District Court. If convicted he could face up to five years in jail and a fine of 500,000 yen (US$5,000).
Mark Karpeles was arrested in 2015 for the disappearance of nearly US$390 million but released on bail in 2016. He was charged for misappropriating approximately 340 million yen from a customer’s account he was managing to an external account between September and December 2013 as well as an increased balance of the account through “improper operation” of Mt Gox’s trading system.
He defended his position by telling the court that the funds transfer was not from a customer account but the firm’s revenue and that the increased balance was the result of the exchange of cash and bitcoins – neither of which is illegal.
The bitcoin exchange had once managed 80 per cent of global bitcoin trading but went bankrupt in 2014 after a loss of 850,000 bitcoins (worth half a billion US dollars back then) after it had to stop investors from withdrawing cash after its trading platform came under attack by hackers.
Investors had demanded that Mt Gox reveal its data to the public to be scrutinized. A French investor said that they seem to refuse to make the information available to the public and suspects that the bitcoins may never had been stolen at all.
So far about 200,000 of the lost bitcoins have been recovered. However, the reputation and credibility of Mt Gox and virtual currencies had been significantly damaged, particularly among cautious Japanese investors and corporations.
The bankruptcy has pushed the Japanese government to tighten bitcoin regulations and all virtual currency exchanges will need to be licensed. This makes Japan the first in the world to regulate virtual currency exchanges and use it to stimulate the economy.
Feature image via bitcoin.com