Kraken Co-Founder Jesse Powell Under Federal Investigation on Claims of Hacking, Cyberstalking Non-Profit

FBI agents searched Powell's Los Angeles home as it probes whether he interfered with computer accounts of Verge Center for the Arts. A lawyer for Powell said he's done "nothing wrong" and unrelated to "his conduct in the cryptocurrency arena."

AccessTimeIconJul 7, 2023 at 12:54 a.m. UTC
Updated Jul 7, 2023 at 7:31 p.m. UTC

Crypto exchange Kraken co-founder Jesse Powell is being investigated by Federal law enforcement on claims that he hacked and cyberstalked a non-profit that he founded, a lawyer for Powell confirmed after a report by The New York Times on Thursday.

The criminal probe is looking into Verge Center for the Arts' allegations that Powell hindered its computer accounts, obstructing access to emails and other messages, The Times reported, citing three unnamed sources.

The paper reported that agents had searched Powell's Brentwood home in Los Angeles' Westside, seizing electronic devices and said that law enforcement from the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of California have been investigating Powell since at least the fall.

Powell has not been charged with any crimes. Brandon Fox, a lawyer with Jenner & Block, said in a statement shared with CoinDesk that Verge "provided a one-sided account that did not provide the government with the full picture, showing that Powell "did nothing wrong." Fox added that the matter is unrelated to "Mr. Powell’s employment or his conduct in the cryptocurrency arena."

Last month, Powell sued Verge in California Superior Court, claiming that has "owns and has rightful access" to the email accounts and that he remains a Verge board member, Fox said. A lawyer for Verge said the Powell's claims were unfounded, The Times reported. At the time of publication, Verge had not responded to a CoinDesk request for comment.

Powell co-founded the Sacramento-based Verge in 2007, but the organization removed him from its board in 2022, saying that he had violated Verge's "guiding principles," The Times reported.

In a statement shared with CoinDesk, a Kraken spokesperson said the exchange was aware of the civil dispute, investigation and search warrants.

"The US Attorney has advised us that Kraken is not a part of the investigation in any way, and the investigation does not concern Jesse’s affiliation with Kraken," the spokesperson said.

Edited by James Rubin.


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James Rubin

James Rubin was CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.

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