The Tokyo District Court has recently found Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of the defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, guilty of charges relating to data manipulation, although it also saw him escape some charges.
According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal, the court found Karpeles guilty of creating electronic records connecting to the cryptocurrency exchange’s books, but did not find him guilty of charges of breach of trust and embezzlement.
Karpeles was given a suspended sentence of two and a half years, and is required to maintain a clean record over the next four years in order to avoid going to jail. The court’s verdict comes years after Mt Gox filed for bankruptcy, in 2014, after allegedly being hacked for 850,000 BTC.
His lawyers reportedly noted in that he wasn’t responsible for the collapse of the exchange, but rather that he tried to prevent it. They wrote:
Mt. Gox did not collapse because of the defendant’s [Karpeles’] wrongdoing. On the contrary, the defendant was trying his hardest every day to prevent its collapse.
After the exchange went down roughly 200,000 BTC were later on found. The exchange’s collapse saw bitcoin’s price crash at the time, as at one point Mt Gox handled over 70% of the flagship cryptocurrency’s trading volume.
In December of last year, prosecutors were looking to get a 10-year sentence for Karpeles for embezzlement, alleging he used 340 million yen (about $3 million) of customers’ funds for his own use. In his defense, Karpeles insisted he didn’t illicitly used customers’ money, and pleaded not guilty while claiming he received loans from the exchange, which he planned on settling in the future.
Last year, a Japanese bankruptcy court sided with creditors who petitioned for the case to be moved to civil rehabilitation, allowing them to receive their locked up bitcoin in its original form, instead of having it converted into fiat according to the exchange rate of the time, of around $500 per BTC.
The cryptocurrency exchange’s trustee, Nobuaki Kobayashi, has set a deadline for creditors to file proof of their claims, after which he will submit the rehabilitation plan. In September of last year, he confirmed he sold $230 million worth of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.