In his closing arguments in a Tokyo court, Mark Karpeles, former CEO of collapsed bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, has restated his innocence in the events that saw the firm lose millions in customer funds and ultimately go bankrupt.
He faces charges of embezzling approximately 340 million yen (over $3 million) from the exchange and fraudulently manipulating Mt. Gox data.
On Thursday, Karpeles apologized for his failure to protect users' cryptocurrency from hacking, but stressed he was not guilty on all charges presented in court, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.
Once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume, Mt. Gox collapsed in early 2014 after it was revealed that the exchange had lost over 800,000 bitcoin at a valuation of $480 million at the time (though some were apparently later found in a hardware wallet). The case got underway in June of this year, with Karpeles having been released on bail in 2017 on the condition he does not leave Japan. He also denied the charge of embezzlement at the time.
While Karpeles isn't accused over the hacking losses, prosecutors claim he transferred 340 million yen belonging to customers from a Mt. Gox account to his personal account between September and December 2013, according to a court indictment. Karpeles, they allege, took the cash for uses such as investing in a software development business.
Karpeles is also accused of manipulating data on Mt. Gox’s trading system to inflate the exchange's balances.
In the trial, his defense team argued that the transfer of money to his own account was carried out as part of the exchange's business, NHK indicates.
Originally facing up to five years in prison, prosecutors are now seeking a 10-year sentence, it was reported earlier this month. The court is expected to announce a verdict on March 15, 2019.
Mark Karpeles image via CoinDesk archive
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.