Following Mark Karpelès acquittal on charges of embezzling bitcoin in the Mt. Gox hack, his lawyer spoke out. He claims the police purely hoped to extract a confession, and the prosecution objected to evidence of Alexander Vinnik’s involvement.
Mt. Gox Ex-CEO Got A Pretty Raw Deal
It’s safe to say Mark Karpelès has had a pretty awful time over the past five years. The former CEO of the former largest Bitcoin exchange in the world has really been through the wringer. Following the 2014 hack of the Mt. Gox exchange, he cooperated with all law enforcement agencies but has faced suspicion at every turn.
Last month he was acquitted of embezzlement charges relating to the heist but received a suspended sentence for data manipulation. In Japan, the odds of a partial not-guilty verdict following an indictment are less than one percent. According to his lawyer, Nobuyasu Ogata:
Imagine someone stole everything in your store and you reported the crime to the police. A year later, the police suddenly arrest you for breach of trust, don’t recover the stolen merchandise and let the criminal go free. That’s essentially what happened with Mt. Gox.
Interrogated 8 Hours Per Day About Missing Bitcoin
After being arrested on unconnected charges in August 2015, Karpelès spent 11 months in jail. He says he was “interrogated for eight hours each day. I was asked about the missing bitcoins. I was even asked if I was Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.”
If the police were looking for a confession as Ogata contends, they didn’t get it. Karpelès was released on bail.
Meanwhile, US Authorities were also looking into the case although their preferred method was to track the lost bitcoin. An IRS led task-force concluded that it was an outsider who had hacked Mt. Gox, and not the inside job which many suspected. What’s more, the bulk of the 600,000 BTC stolen between 2011 and 2013 led straight to one man – Alexander Vinnik.
This Vinnik Is A Popular Guy, Right?
Greek authorities arrested Russian national and former BTC-e operator, Vinnik, in July 2017, on suspicion of money laundering, and links to Mt. Gox and several other hacks. While awaiting extradition to either Russia, France, or the US, Greek authorities foiled an assassination attempt. Greece handed him over to Russia in September last year, although he may now be passed on to the French authorities.
When Ogata tried to enter Vinnik’s indictment and the ‘outside job’ conclusion of the US team as evidence in Karpelès trial, the prosecution objected. The Russian should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, they claimed. Whereas Karpelès on the other hand…
The panel of judges referred to Vinnik’s indictment in their ruling. Perhaps if the prosecution had accepted the findings of the US task force back in 2017 when they were first presented, the Karpelès trial wouldn’t have had to happen at all.
Was BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik the Mt. Gox thief? Share our thoughts below!
Images via Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives
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