Mark Karpeles, owner and CEO of the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, has been convicted of falsifying electronic data, but was acquitted of embezzlement charges by Tokyo District Court on 15 March.
The French businessman was found guilty on charges of record tampering, and was subsequently granted a suspended jail sentence for two and a half years. This means that Karpeles wouldn’t have to serve time in prison if he does not commit any crime for a period of four years. Additionally, the court also ordered Mark Karpeles to compensate for trial costs.
Yuji Nakamura, a Bloomberg tech reporter, summarized the Tokyo District Court’s verdict on Karpeles,
“In summary, the court found that the way he ran Mt. Gox was a total mess and that he tampered with records to hide the fact it was missing a lot of Bitcoin, but he did not do it for personal gain or have ill intent.”
According to his translations, the court stated that the use of tampered data involving a large sum of funds caused severe damage to the customers of Mt. Gox. However, there was no criminal evidence of the serious allegations Karpeles was charged with. He also stated that the defendant’s criminal responsibility cannot be undermined.
Tokyo prosecutors had previously accused Karpeles on multiple accounts of fraud, including embezzlement and aggravated breach of trust, demanding a 10-year prison term for him. Maintaining his innocence since the very beginning, the CEO of the infamous exchange said that he was happy to be found not guilty of the serious charges of embezzlement and breach of trust.
The Mt. Gox fiasco accounted for a loss of 850k BTC, out of which only 200k coins have been recovered. The breach resulted in a loss of over 7% of the entire Bitcoin circulation in early 2014. Later, the company filed for bankruptcy and ceased its operations.
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