Japanese prosecutors charge Karpeles with embezzling 321 million yen ($2.66 million) by transferring clients’ funds deposited at Mt.Gox’s bank account to other accounts. Sources say the money was spent on buying computer software development rights and an expensive custom-built bed. Karpeles is suspected of falsifying data on the outstanding balance of the exchange. Karpeles has denied the charges, telling investigators the data falsification was done for the company and he had intended to pay back the money. He has been held without formal charge for six weeks, as allowed under Japanese law.
After three weeks with no formal charges Japanese police says they will issue a fresh arrest warrant accusing him of pocketing $2.6 million worth of Bitcoin deposits, which was mainly spent on buying software rights, but also includes $48,000 for a luxury bed. Police are also reportedly interested in questioning Karpeles about the disappearance of 850,000 coins worth 48 billion yen last year. They were valued at around $480 million at the time of the disappearance, and $387 million at current exchange rates.
Karpeles is arrested at his home by Japanese police who say he accessed a computer system and falsified data on its outstanding balance. Police say Karpeles protested at his arrest and said he will not sign any documents until his lawyer arrives. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police say they believe Karpeles had manipulated transaction records on a computer system that Mt. Gox used to swap Bitcoins for dollars, and had “unjustly inflated the balance” of an account held under his name:
He created false information that $1 million had been transferred into the account, when in fact it had not been.
Karpeles has not been formally charged. Police can detain him for up to 23 days before charging him.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stacey G. Jernigan accepts Mt. Gox’s U.S. filing and recognizes Mt. Gox’s Japanese bankruptcy as the foreign main proceeding. The ruling empowers the company’s Japanese trustee to examine witnesses, gather and review evidence, and oversee assets in the U.S. She says
This is really going to be all about the customers, who make up almost all of the creditors, and trying to get them a recovery
According to a statement and court filings, U.S. and Canadian customers have agreed to settle their proposed class action lawsuits by supporting a plan by Sunlot Holdings to buy the exchange and accept their share of bitcoins still held by Mt. Gox. Sunlot plans to buy Mt. Gox for one Bitcoin (less than $500).
The customers will share in a 16.5 percent stake after Mt. Gox is sold to Sunlot, a firm backed by child actor-turned entrepreneur Brock Pierce and venture capitalist William Quigley, and split the 200,000 bitcoins that Mt. Gox said it found after seeking bankruptcy protection. They will also split up to $20 million held by the administrator for Mt. Gox. Jay Edelson, the lead attorney in the U.S. case said:
This is the customers’ best option and the only chance they have for full restitution
The settlement releases Jed McCaleb, and Gonzague Gay-Bouchery, who have committed to help pursue the class action against the remaining defendants: Karpeles, Tibanne, Mizuho Bank Ltd and others.
The Tokyo District Court dismisses an application for civil rehabilitation and appoints an administrator of the company’s assets in place of Karpeles.
Karpeles: There are no prospects for the restart of the business. The dismissal of the application for commencement of a civil rehabilitation procedure will create great inconvenience and concerns to our creditors for which we apologize
The administrator, lawyer Nobuaki Kobayashi, said in a separate statement that the court will probably order the start of bankruptcy proceedings. How the company is treated will be decided by taking into account factors including whether there is any candidate to buy the business, Kobayashi said. Kobayashi also said any investigation of the liability of Karpeles will be conducted as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stacey Jernigan orders Karpeles to appear on April 17 in Dallas at the offices of Baker & McKenzie, the law firm that represents Mt. Gox. Last month, Karpeles asked a Dallas court to grant Mt. Gox Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection, in part to put a stop to a class action that had been filed by U.S. customers in Chicago federal court. Under Chapter 15, Mt. Gox must prove at a May 20 hearing that it should be granted such protection from creditors. Judge Jernigan:
If he avails himself of this court, my God, he is going to get himself over here.
A Baker & McKenzie attorney said the company may replace Karpeles as the “foreign representative” of Mt. Gox in the U.S. bankruptcy court.
U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman issues a temporary order freezing money and property belonging to the Mt. Gox Inc. (the U.S. affiliate of Tibanne), Tibanne KK, and principal Mark Karpeles. The order is issued without opposition from the frozen entities, who are not represented in court, and in the presence of lawyers for Mt.Gox Co. Feinerman’s order expires March 25 and does not cover Mt. Gox Co, which has sought bankruptcy protection in Japan and expires on March 25. Citing what he called a “very limited record,” Feinerman said plaintiff Greene established a “sufficient likelihood of success” on his claims to warrant the freeze.
Fienerman: It may turn out there are no such assets
After the hearing, lead plaintiff’s lawyer Jay Edelson said he plans to immediately question Karpeles under oath.
The Company files for U.S. bankruptcy protection in Dallas late Sunday saying without protection it will spend substantial funds defending itself against Gregory Greene’s class action. Greene is scheduled to ask a federal judge on March 11 to freeze Mt. Gox’s U.S.-based servers and other computer equipment and to set up a trust over Mt. Gox’s U.S. assets. The Chapter 15 filing allows Mt. Gox to ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to recognize its foreign bankruptcy and to assist in the Japanese proceedings by protecting its U.S.-based assets. U.S. creditors can contest Mt. Gox’s request for Chapter 15 protection.
Mt. Gox officially files for bankruptcy protection with outstanding debts of ¥6.5bn ($63.6m), against assets of ¥3.8bn ($37.4m). A notice posted on their website admits that “although the complete extent is not yet known”, 750,000 of its customers’ bitcoins and 100,000 of the company’s own have “disappeared” due to “illegal access through the abuse of a bug in the bitcoin system”. At this time they “cannot confirm the exact amount of missing deposit funds and the total amount of bitcoins which disappeared.”
In order to increase repayments to our creditors, it is necessary to explore the possibility of having MtGox Co., Ltd. continue its business. This is why the civil rehabilitation procedure has been chosen, rebuilding MtGox Co., Ltd under the supervision of the court in a legally organized procedure while giving proper explanations will not be for the sole benefit of the company but for that of the whole bitcoin community.
Gregory Greene, of Illinois, files a class action lawsuit against Mt. Gox for its loss of approximately 750,000 Bitcoins valued at more than $400 million. Filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, the 32 page legal complaint accuses Mt. Gox and Mark Karpeles of consumer fraud and negligence for failing to provide the necessary security to prevent theft of the Bitcoin reserves, as well as claims they are guilty of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. Although Greene is the only named plaintiff in the suit, the complaint lists “all persons in the United States who had Bitcoins or Fiat Currency stored with Mt. Gox on February 7, 2014.”
Mt. Gox and bitcoin business incubator, Coinlab had formed a business partnership last November, giving CoinLab the exclusive license to market Mt. Gox’s services in North America. But CoinLab had filed a complaint on May 2, claiming $75million damages, alleging that Mt. Gox had withheld information it needed to market to customers, instead continuing to sell into North America itself. In response, Mt. Gox alleges that CoinLab was not able to operate lawfully as its partner in the US, the reason for the $5.5m damages suit.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues a warrant (document) to seize money from Mt. Gox’s US subsidiary’s account with payment processor Dwolla. The warrant suggests the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an investigative branch of the DHS, feels the subsidiary, which should have been licensed by the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has been operating as an unregistered money transmitter in the United States.
In order to accept funds in dollars, Mt. Gox opened a Wells Fargo business account for Mutum Sigillum LLC (Mt. Gox’s American subsidiary). The company had to complete a document that states whether it provides money services or not. The warrant reads: “That document was completed on May 20, 2011, and identified Mutum Sigillum LLC as a business not engaged in money services.”
In particular, Karpeles answered no to two important questions: “Do you deal in or exchange currency for your customer?” and “Does your business accept funds from customers and send the funds based on customers’ instructions (Money Transmitter)?”
Coinlab’s files a Federal lawsuit inWashington State. Coinlab alleging that Mt. Gox has breached a contract clause which was supposed to give Coinlab exclusive access to the North American market. The lawsuit states:
Defendants have breached the exclusivity provisions of the Agreement by directly servicing customers in the United States and Canada since the Agreement took effect
Despite repeated requests to do so, Mt. Gox has failed to deliver all passwords, Yubikeys, administrative logins and any other security information required so that CoinLab may assume operation of the Bitcoin exchange services for customers in the United States and Canada.
Coinlab is demanding $75 million in damages, and even that, it says, “likely underestimates the actual damages.”
Karpeles is sued by a customer who claims he had paid 15,000 euros ($20,700) for a website to be developed that was never built. The Tokyo District Court rules in May 2013 that Karpeles has to return the money.
Karpeles is arrested by BEFTI (Brigade Investigation of Fraud in Information Technology) after allegations that he stole his employers’ data. He describes the BEFTI officers as “barbaric”, commenting that the arrest was “like no other”. After 13 hours in jail and a search of the servers, Palm Pilot, and other home computers, he was released after making a statement.
Note: Exact year is unknown.
According to Reuters, blog posts Karpeles wrote in 2006 say he was arrested twice in France before he was 21 for computer fraud-related charges. One resulted in a 3-month suspended sentence. French authorities in Tokyo said they have seen confirmation of one prior conviction, but do not have details.
Indeed, during my misspent youth, I made a huge, huge mistake. Enough silliness that I found myself locked into custody and brought temporarily placed in the “mousetrap” (souricière: possibly “n.f. (pol.): ‘Baited trap’ laid by the forces of law-and-order.”). This was followed by an investigation of more than a year, which eventually ended in a trial.
I will not give too much detail about what I did wrong, just say it concerns payment systems on the Internet. I spent two years taking risks becoming larger, perhaps because it was an exciting side … whatever, I ended up getting arrested (in rather bizarre circumstances, noting that when I was arrested, I was just in a police station to file a complaint for something else).
Karpeles then notes he had to undergo psychiatric review, and that it was the psychiatrist who gave him an interest in Japan.
Then I had the right to visits to a shrink. And it turned out, after much discussion, this psych was also interested in Japan (except that a psychologist there earns a rather good living, and they can go regularly) … And I had a agreement with the therapist. The agreement was rather simple. I had to do historical research in the history of Japan and write a report. Obviously it was not so complicated for me, but I could still see and more interesting things about some of the history of Japan.
In the end he stated in his report (which I have a copy) that I was not responsible for my actions, and that the abuse of cannabis was bad for my mental health. I was rather shocked (I never, oh, ever smoked substances “illegal”, I swear on it), then after thinking a lot, I finally concluded that it was can not be so bad as that. In the end, the trial was not concluded too bad for me (3 months suspended sentence disappearing after 5 years, and nothing in the criminal record).