Japanese Court Finds Former Mt Gox CEO Guilty of Data Manipulation

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.

QuadrigaCX Co-Founder Traded Away Users’ Funds as Sole Operational Director: Report

  • More than $220 million worth of users' funds absconded-with by QuadrigaCX co-founder
  • Stollen funds used for trading on "competitor exchanges" - for a loss

Reportedly deceased QuadrigaCX co-founder Gerald Cotton withdrew customers' funds to trade on both spot and leveraged margin exchanges, incurring significant losses in the process, alleges the latest public report on court proceedings surrounding the incident.

The report, the fifth commissioned to the global accountancy firm Ernst and Young (EY) by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, found that a vast sum of cryptoassets were transferred from QuadrigaCX exchange wallets to wallets operated by “competitor” exchanges and controlled Cotton, between the period 2016-19. The vast majority of the transfers occurred under Cotton’s alias “Chris Markay.”

Specifically, 9,450 bitcoin, 387,738 ether and 239,020 Litecoin were said to be transferred from QuadrigaCX in this way, and the questionable transfers resulted in “overall trading losses” trading on both spot and margin exchanges.

An additional sum of 21,501 bitcoin was also transferred to an exchange wallet controlled by Cotton, although it is unknown precisely how much of this sum originated from QuadrigaCX wallets. The proportion is unknown because the wallet is held in an offshore location not obliged to comply with EY’s requests for full accounting details. EY added however, that this information has been given to law enforcement of the unspecified jurisdiction.

 

 

EY also claim that Cotton traded on QuadrigaCX itself, using what were likely false deposits of fiat currency to buy cryptocurrency on the platform and counter-trade customers. About 300,000 trades were made from these “unsupported deposits,” which helped beef up QuadrigaCX’s trading volume and trading revenues.

The EY report outlines some generally poor practices that seem to have enabled the scandal, includin poor Know-Your-Customer (KYC) standards enforced on the exchange, which enable the easy exploitation of the platform; no separation between users’ wallets and the exchange’s wallets; and a “significantly flawed” financial reporting and operational control operating infrastructure, which EY claim were largely directed by Cotton alone and in which “typical segregation of duties and basic internal controls did not appear to exist.”

An Unpaid Bill

The QuadrigaCX story has been so big as to make it to non-crypto media in Canada. It has recently been reported by the CBC that Cotton’s alleged exploits have left former customers in the lurch, to as much as $250 million (Canadian) of unreturned funds.

EY claim that roughly 76,000 users’ funds are stuck in limbo as, in effect, unpaid IOUs, and confirm a figure of $214.6 million CAD remains unpaid.