At one point not too long ago, a site by the name of Mt. Gox was one of the leading Japanese Bitcoin exchanges. Responsible for millions and millions of dollars’ worth of BTC on a daily basis, Mt. Gox was one of the biggest names in the industry. Now, however, the company is nothing more than a memory, and the company’s founder is to be put on trial, facing embezzlement charges in Japan.
Embezzlement Charges on the Table
Mark Karpeles is the French-born founder of the failed Mt. Gox. According to the Japanese government, Karpeles is accused of hacking Mt. Gox’s main computing system and inflating his account to the tune of $1 million.
It took authorities more than a year and a half in order to bring suit against Karpeles, but that is exactly what happened in late 2015. Karpeles swiftly posted bail, but we are now about to see the actual trial unfold, and this trial may have bigger implications for Bitcoin traders both in Japan and around the world.
How It All Happened
As you might expect, Karpeles has repeatedly denied any sort of wrongdoing. Despite what he claims, the fact of the matter is that his potential punishment is nothing more than a slap on the wrist. According to Japanese authorities, Karpeles faces a maximum of 5 years in prison, or a small fine of just a few thousand dollars.
In the initial days following Mt. Gox going offline, Karpeles was quick to come out and explain that there were many millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin missing from accounts. With little explanation besides that, we are here today and former Mt. Gox users are still attempting to find out what happened to their funds and if they will ever get their missing funds back. Some simply want to know why one of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges in Japan collapsed in such a short amount of time, and without any notice. Unfortunately, those answers may never become public.
Even more surprising for the larger Bitcoin community, and especially for those who are wary of cryptocurrencies, is how such a large exchange can go under so quickly. For many, the Mt. Gox debacle does well to confirm their greatest fears.
What Has Happened Since
Even though Japanese authorities will tell you that this has nothing to do with the Mt. Gox situation, a lot of regulation has occurred in the years that have followed. The Japanese government now officially recognizes Bitcoin as a currency, and many retailers have decided to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.
To make what can be a long and drawn out story more short and to the point, the Japanese government has put in many rules and regulations to prevent the misuse of Bitcoin. This is still an evolving type of legislation, but it is clear to see Japan has taken the lead. It will be interesting to see what ends up happening to Karpeles, but most experts think that he will get off somewhat easy when you consider what he is accused of doing.