Japan's High Court Rejects Former Mt Gox CEO's Conviction Appeal

Mark Karpeles said he is reviewing the verdict with his legal team.

Jun 12, 2020 at 2:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:51 a.m. UTC

The former CEO of Mt. Gox – the bitcoin exchange at the center of one of the most notorious hacks in crypto – has had his conviction upheld by Japan's high court.

On Thursday, Tokyo's the court threw out an appeal from Mark Karpeles, who had been found guilty last year for manipulating electronic data, upholding the original conviction and sentence of two and a half years in prison, suspended for four years.

Karpeles was originally arrested in August 2015, roughly 18 months after an unknown hacker made off with more than 850,000 bitcoins from Mt. Gox. At the time the amount was valued in the hundreds of millions, but would be worth more than $8 billion, today. Around 15% was later recovered and now constitutes the Mt. Gox estate, which is still being fought over by the exchange's creditors.

Prosecutors had originally accused Karpeles of embezzling user funds, breach of trust and manipulating electronic data, and demanded he serve 10 years in prison. The Tokyo District Court found him innocent on the first two counts, but guilty on manipulating electronic data in order to harm his clients.

The legal team representing Karpeles, which has always claimed he is innocent of all charges, contend that prosecutors didn't know how crypto exchanges operated and were merely using him as a fall guy.

“Today’s verdict was unfortunate, and I am reviewing its contents alongside my lawyers and will decide how to proceed from there in the coming days,” Karpeles said following the ruling, in a report from the Associated Press.

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