One of the most infamous figures in the bitcoin community is finally facing his day at court. The trial of Mark Karpeles – the founder of once the biggest bitcoin exchange in the world MtGox – began today in Tokyo.
Karpeles was charged with data manipulation and embezzling a total of 341 million yen from customers. He denied all the charges today, pleaded not guilty and stuck to his claim that the bitcoin trading venue was hacked.
According to Japan’s Nikkei news agency, Karpeles reacted by reading out a prepared statement in Japanese after being formally presented with the charges today:
“I swear to God I am not guilty.” He added: “I offer my sincere apology for causing inconvenience to many clients with the bankruptcy of MtGox.”
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For their opening statement the Japanese prosecutors claimed that Karpeles held client money in the company’s bank account and ignored requests by his associates to segregate them for safety. They further claim that around 315 million yen were misused on acquiring a 3D printing venture and another 6 million yen for buying a canopy bed for his personal use.
Later Karpeles tried to pull a move out of the O. J. Simpson playbook and said: “As a person responsible for MtGox, I have to recover the stolen bitcoins and determine where they are gone, but this trial is not aimed at finding the cause of bankruptcy.”
Once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, MtGox went bankrupt in February 2014 when it reported the disappearance of 850,000 bitcoins in a cyber attack, worth over $450 million at the time.
In 2015, former CEO Karpeles was arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police department and hit with allegations that he misappropriated more than $50 million from corporate accounts belonging to MtGox.
The matter has also sparked a class action lawsuit in the US against Mizuho Bank which managed all of MtGox’s American fiat deposits and withdrawals.
According to a report for the Tokyo District Court, publicly released by MtGox bankruptcy trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi, almost 25,000 people have filed claims amounting to about $24 billion.