Nearly five years after Mt. Gox was hacked, another chapter was added to the long saga. The lawyer representing Mark Karpeles, former CEO of the once largest Bitcoin [BTC] exchange in the world, has accused Tokyo prosecutors of ignoring evidence, according to a report by The Japan Times.
Nobuyasu Ogata, Karpelès’ defense counsel, compared the biggest hack in cryptocurrency history to the police arresting a store owner for lodging a complaint of theft that took place.
“The police suddenly arrest you for breach of trust, don’t recover the stolen merchandise and let the criminal go free. That’s essentially what happened with Mt. Gox.”
At the trial, Karpeles was convicted of falsifying electronic data and acquitted of embezzlement charges, much to the fury of the cryptocurrency community. Ogata lashed out and claimed that the former CEO was detained by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department because they wanted to extract a confession from him.
In July 2017, when Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece for alleged money laundering and ties to the Tokyo exchange, he became a prime suspect in the Karpelès case. Ogata further claimed that when he tried to submit Vinnik’s indictment into evidence, the Tokyo prosecutors objected, adding that he should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Following the 15 March trial, many had hoped that further investigation would nail Karpeles. However, this was not the case as local Japanese daily, Nikkei Shimbun noted,
“The Metropolitan Police Department investigation into the missing bitcoins has, in fact, been terminated.”
Karpelès had claimed that he was put through harsh conditions by the authorities during the investigation, stating that interrogations would go on for “eight hours each day.”
According to Karpelès,
“I was asked about the missing bitcoins. I was even asked if I was Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. I was asked to sign confessions and statements in Japanese. Sometimes, the prosecutor would have pre-written statements for me in the morning they wanted signed.”
It should be noted that the Frenchman did not confess to the charges leveled against him. He was later arrested on other indictments related to the hacking, with the initial charges of fraud and embezzlement dropped, post the trial.
Mt. Gox was once, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, handling over 70 percent of all BTC transactions around the globe in January 2014. A month later, the exchange went bankrupt following a hack. Over 740,000 Bitcoins or 7 percent of the global BTCs in supply at the time were affected, with the exchange’s bank accounts seeing a $27 million theft as well.
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