The man once known in the bitcoin community as “Bitcoin King” (probably because he handled a majority of bitcoin in circulation) finally faces the legal troubles he’s be running from.
Thirty-year-old Mark Karpelès was officially charged with embezzlement for the allegations brought against him by Japanese prosecutors who claim that he falsified data and misappropriated around $2.6 million (Y315 million) worth of bitcoin that was provided by bitcoin investors on his bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox. That exchange collapsed in 2014 when it went bankrupt.
While the reports that came out in 2014 indicated that Karpelès was unsure about what happened to the bitcoins that disappeared from his now-defunct exchange, the prosectors claim that that money was actually taken by Karpelès and placed into the account of another company of his.
In an interesting twist, however, those accusations didn’t list off the $500 million worth of missing bitcoin that eventually caused Mt. Gox to shut down, according to multiple reports on the arrest. Other charges brought against Karpelès include accusations that he moved bitcoin through his personal computer and moved $1 million into his own account. His lawyers have also denied those charges.
Karpelès indictment was anticipated for quite some time, particularly by those in the bitcoin community who were impacted by the downfall of Mt. Gox. He was initially arrested in August in Japan after a massive investigation from authorities. His first arrest was in 2014, which was connected to a loss of 850,000 bitcoins. Now, however, authorities say they have enough evidence to bring formal charges against him.
In late August, Karpelès denied the allegations against him that he knowingly contributed to the demise of the exchange or that he manipulated account balances. He told the Japanese police that he was unaware of the bitcoin disappearance, saying he “was just a victim.” He was arrested last week in Tokyo on accusations of embezzlement charges related to the case. He went as far in a local media interview to say that Mt. Gox was “a normal business operation.”