Mt. Gox Trial: Prosecution Will Not Appeal Mark Karpelès’ Acquittal


The prosecution in the case against Mark Karpelès, the former chief executive of the defunct Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange has decided against pursuing an appeal of the court’s decision to acquit Karpelès of embezzlement charges. The embattled ex-Bitcoin exchange baron has been on trial since 2017 after being arrested back in 2015 by Japanese law enforcement.

Prosecution Rests

According to the Japanese media platform, The Mainichi, anonymous sources say prosecutors in the Karpelès case have agreed to abide by the court’s ruling. Earlier in March, the Tokyo District Court found the accused ex-Mt. Gox chief not guilty of embezzlement regarding his administration of the Bitcoin exchange platform before its collapse.

The court, however, indicted Karpelès on a separate charge of data manipulation with a four-year suspended sentence. Based on the terms of the ruling, Karpelès will not serve any jail time but could face imprisonment if convicted of a crime during the tenure of his current suspended sentence.

Prosecutors had charged the former Mt. Gox CEO with embezzlement to the tune of 341 million yen (about $3 million). According to the prosecutors, Karpelès allegedly spent the money on hiring a web developer and on some personal matters.

According to the court, the hiring of a software developer fell under business expenses and the money spent on personal matters were loans taken from the company which he [Karpelès] intended to pay back.

Mark Karpelès Not to Blame

Nobuyasu Ogata, the lawyer representing the French-born Karpelès praised the judgment of the court on the embezzlement charge. Speaking to AP, Ogata opined that the court took the proper course of action given the details of the Mt. Gox saga.

However, Ogata took exception to Karpelès’ conviction on the data manipulation charge. According to the lawyer, the ex-Mt. Gox CEO is guilty only of trying to protect users of the platform from the consequences of the 2014 hack.

In an email quoted by AP, Karpelès declared his intention to appeal the judgment, saying:

“I believe appealing to the judgment is appropriate so that I can be judged again in full consideration of all the facts.”

Meanwhile, the civil rehabilitation proceedings for Mt. Gox creditors is entering its final stages and may likely bring to an end, the saga surrounding Bitcoin’s first mega exchange platform. The news of the 2014 Mt. Gox hack remains a watershed event in the history of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general.

Newer cryptocurrency exchanges that have emerged since the Mt. Gox hack have tried to establish more secure protocols to better safeguard funds from hackers. However, cybercriminals still continue to successfully hack platforms every so often. Experts usually advise investors to use only trusted exchanges that prioritize security.