Citing the local news outlet Nikkei, the Tokyo District Court ruled on March 15th that Mark Karpelès, CEO of the defunct crypto exchange Mt.Gox, is not guilty of misdemeanor charges linked to the notorious Mt.Gox hacks, but he is convicted and sentenced for two and half year imprisonment on grounds of tampering with electronic records related to a total of $33.50 million.
However, the conviction comes as a bit too late and too little for the victimized customers – the conviction comes with four-year probation, which means if Karpelès remains on "good behavior" over the next four years he won't serve prison time at all.
The prosecutors set off in the beginning to have Karpelès locked behind bars for ten good years for three main allegations. The most prominent one laser-focused on his supposed involvement with the 2014 Mt.Gox hacking, which reported a loss of 850,000 Bitcoin. 200,000 BTC were retrieved later, which means 650,000 Bitcoin remain unaccounted for, an equivalent to $2.55 billion at the current price. And Karpelès poses as a likely suspect to take the blame in the eyes of the prosecution office as the investigation drew on and more evidence surfaced.
However, the defender argued that "the indictment is unrelated to the failure of Mt.Gox," which the judge granted valid because the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has not yet compiled a cogent investigation report to illustrate the cause.
Secondly, another charge the prosecutor threw in Karpelès’way is his extravagant lifestyle, reportedly sustained by money of his company, Mt.Gox. For example, Karpelès resided in a $11,000-a-month rented apartment and traveled abroad on a regular basis. The defender once again claimed his innocence: the money was loaned from the company and properly booked. "I intended to settle it later," said Karpelès.
However, the CEO failed to walk out of the courtroom as a free man. Citing Nikkei, he was also accused of tampering with data during February and September of 2013 and made it look like mind-boggling $33.5 million had been deposited into his account, on which the court ruled in favor with the district attorneys.
"We find the charge of electronic record tampering to be true and that it deserves punishment, but there's no criminal evidence [as] embezzlement (dominant or reserve type) or violations of company laws, resulting in a not guilty ruling," wrote the verdict. "The creation and use of tampered records involved a monetary amount that was extremely large, resulting in severe damage to the trust of the users."
One conviction out of three main allegations has earned Karpelès two and half years in prison with four-year probation. According to the Financial Times, Karpelès showed his respect to the judges, and although he did not make any statements, his humble reaction seems to indicate his satisfaction with the results of this legal challenge - after all, it is a huge bargain replacement of ten-year prison time.
Karpelès' conviction doesn't write a period to the Mt.Gox scandal since whoever stole that much of Bitcoin is still at large and Kolin Burges, the well-known creditor/fighter against Mt.Gox, is still awaiting justice.