Japanese police have finally caught up with Mark Karpeles, CEO of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange that went bust early last year — taking some $387 million in user currency with it. Karpeles is charged with accessing the exchange’s computer system in order to manipulate the exchange figures and falsify the balance data being reported; Karpeles says the discrepancies were caused by software bugs.
Although Karpeles didn’t walk off with the full $387 million of lost money, he is suspected of profiting from the exchange to the tune of around $1 million, and stands accused of deliberately misleading users about how safe their money was during his tenure. Lawyers representing Karpeles say the ex-Mt. Gox boss has done nothing illegal, but he has now been arrested and will be questioned by the Japanese authorities.
As we reported in February last year, Mt. Gox users were incensed that they were suddenly locked out of their accounts. Some $409 million was previously stolen from the exchange by unidentified outside parties, and it seems that Mt. Gox was unable to recover. The site had been trading in Bitcoin since the middle of 2010 and at one point was handling 70 percent of all Bitcoin transactions made worldwide.
So far, Karpeles — who is also wanted in the U.S. for questioning — hasn’t been charged with any offences. Japanese police have a 23-day window in which to detain him without a formal charge or the possibility of bail. Mt. Gox itself is currently in the process of liquidation and it’s not clear if affected users will ever get their money back.
Since the chaotic days of the Mt. Gox shutdown, the reputation of Bitcoin has stabilized, even if it isn’t yet in mainstream use. The digital cryptocurrency most recently hit the headlines as a possible alternative for Greek citizens looking to protect their savings. For those of you with no idea what we’re talking about, we’ve got a complete guide for you here.