Mark Karpeles, former CEO of the long-defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, has escaped some charges, but been found guilty of manipulating exchange data in a Japanese court.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal on Friday, the Tokyo District Court found Karpeles guilty of wrongfully making electronic records connected to Mt. Gox’s books, but innocent on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust.
Karpeles was handed a suspended sentence of two years and six months. He must maintain a good record over the next four years to avoid jail time.
The court’s verdict comes almost five years after Mt. Gox filed for liquidation in April 2014 after claiming it was hacked for 850,000 bitcoin, some of which was later found.
According to the WSJ report, Karpeles’ lawyers wrote in their final argument to the court:
“Mt. Gox did not collapse because of the defendant’s [Karpeles’] wrongdoing. On the contrary, the defendant was trying his hardest every day to prevent its collapse.”
In December, Japanese prosecutors were seeking a 10-year sentence for Karpeles for embezzlement, alleging he used about $3 million of customers’ funds for his own personal use.
Karpeles, on the other hand, reiterated his innocence and apologized several times over the years. He once said, “I never imagined things would end this way and I am forever sorry for everything that’s taken place and all the effect it had on everyone involved.”
In August last year, the Japanese bankruptcy court that initially oversaw the case sided with creditors who made a petition to move the case to civic rehabilitation. As such, creditors could file for receiving their bitcoin locked up atin their original form rather than having them converted to fiat currencies.
In January,’ trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi announced the deadline for creditors to file proof of their claims was extended to March 15, after which the trustee will submit the rehabilitation plan to the court.