The former head of the collapsed Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox is in some very serious legal trouble after being officially charged with embezzlement in Japan. Mark Karpeles was arrested in August on charges that he falsified data about how many bitcoins Mt. Gox possessed and that funds were diverted from other accounts to his personal account.
Mt. Gox shut down in February 2014 after it found that more than 850,000 bitcoins worth £132m had been stolen in what is thought to be the biggest hack in the currency’s short lifetime.
At the time it closed, Mt. Gox was the world’s biggest exchange of bitcoins and handled about 70% of all transactions in the virtual currency. The theft was a major blow to the credibility of Bitcoin as viable alternative to fiat currencies.
Mr Karpeles also faces charges that £1.7m in bitcoins was funnelled away from user’s accounts towards companies he owned a few months before the exchange closed.
The charges were formally laid against Mr Karpeles as the six-week period that he could be held without charge in Japan was about to expire. Lawyers acting for Mr Karpeles said he had done nothing wrong and would fight to clear his name.
Mt. Gox was placed in administration by a Japanese court in April last year following its closure. In early August, a Japanese court ruled against a man hoping to claim compensation over bitcoins he lost when Mt. Gox went offline.