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MtGox bitcoin chief Mark Karpeles arrested in Japan - BBC Mtgox bitcoin chief mark karpeles arrested in japan

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Image caption Mr Karpeles' lawyers asked for the hearing to be delayed

Japanese police have arrested the CEO of the failed company MtGox, which was once the world's biggest exchange of the virtual currency, bitcoin.

Mark Karpeles, 30, is being held in connection with the loss of bitcoins worth $387m (£247m, €351m) last February.

He is suspected of having accessed the exchange's computer system to falsify data on its outstanding balance.

MtGox claimed it was caused by a bug but it later filed for bankruptcy.

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Media captionThe BBC's Rory Cellan Jones explains how Bitcoin works

Japan's Kyodo News said a lawyer acting on Mr Karpeles' behalf denied his client had done anything illegal.

Mr Karpeles, who was born in France, is suspected of benefiting to the tune of $1m (£640,000), the agency said.

In March 2014, a month after filing for bankruptcy, MtGox said it had found 200,000 lost bitcoins.

The firm said it found the bitcoins - worth around $116m - in an old digital wallet from 2011.

That brings the total number of bitcoins the firm lost down to 650,000 from 850,000.

That total amounts to about 7% of all the bitcoins in existence.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency built around a complicated cryptographic protocol and a global network of computers that oversees and verifies which coins have been spent by whom.

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Mark Karpeles bitcoin exchange MtGox CEO arrested in .

French-born Mark Karpeles held in connection with the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency

Mark Karpeles, former chief executive of MtGox, pictured in Tokyo in February 2014. Photograph: Yuya Shino/Reuters

Mark Karpeles, the former head of defunct bitcoin exchange MtGox, has been arrested in Japan, and is reportedly to be questioned over the 2014 disappearance of nearly $390m (£250m) worth of the virtual currency.

A spokesman for the Tokyo police said French-born Karpeles, 30, was suspected of accessing the exchange’s computer system in February 2013 and inflating his cash account by $1m.

But local media reported that police are also investigating his possible involvement in the vanishing of hundreds of millions of dollars of the virtual currency when the exchange collapsed in 2014. It was not immediately clear if Karpeles was set to be charged with any offences.

After the Japanese news website nikkei.com reported that he was going to be arrested, Karpeles told the Wall Street Journal that the allegations were false and he would “of course deny” them. Kyodo News service quoted Karpeles’s lawyer as saying his client denied any wrongdoing.

If found guilty, Karpeles could face up to five years in prison, or a fine of up to 500,000 yen (£2,650).

When it filed for bankruptcy in February 2014, MtGox said 750,000 customer bitcoins and another 100,000 belonging to the exchange were stolen due to a software security flaw.

Karpeles, who had blamed hackers for the loss, later said he had recovered 200,000 of the lost bitcoins in a “cold wallet” – a storage device such as a memory stick that is not connected to other computers.

Known as a self-proclaimed geek who said he was uncomfortable in his native France and hadn’t been back in years, Karpeles became interested in bitcoin when a customer of his web-hosting services wanted to pay in the virtual currency. MtGox subsequently shot from obscurity to dominate global trade in bitcoin, but as early as 2012 employees at the Tokyo-based exchange challenged Karpeles on issues such as whether client money was being used to cover costs.

Investors had called on MtGox to publicise its data so that hackers around the world could help analyse what happened. “They say it’s under investigation. That’s all they say,” a French investor told AFP last year at a creditors’ meeting in Tokyo. “They seem to refuse to make public more precise information about MtGox’s own [information] and how and when it was stolen, if it was really stolen.”

Karpeles had reportedly refused to travel to the US, where he had been asked to appear for questioning in connection with MtGox’s collapse.

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MtGox bitcoin chief Mark Karpeles arrested in Japan .

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The founder of MtGox - once the world's biggest Bitcoin exchange - has been formally charged by prosecutors in Japan with embezzlement amid an investigation into losses of nearly $400m.

Japanese police arrested Mr Karpeles in Tokyo, where he lives, on 1 August.

His arrest was connected to the MtGox loss of 850,000 Bitcoins in February 2014.

At the time, the losses were worth nearly $400m (about £240m).

It was claimed the Bitcoin losses were caused by a bug - but the Tokyo-based exchange later filed for bankruptcy.

MtGox then said it had found some 200,000 of the lost bitcoins.

Mr Karpeles has also been accused of falsifying data and improperly transferring MtGox funds.

The French-born former chief executive of the exchange had been held in detention for six weeks without being formally charged, which is allowed under Japanese law.

It was not clear if the embezzlement charge was related to all or some of the missing money.

Japan's Kyodo News said in August that a lawyer acting on Mr Karpeles' behalf denied his client had done anything illegal.

Bitcoin is money that is completely virtual and is regarded as an online version of cash. It can be used to buy products and services.

Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn told the BBC last month there was still much confusion over the legal status of Bitcoins in many nations.

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Mt Gox CEO Mark Karpeles Arrested in Japan - coindesk.com

  • Mark Karpeles was detained Saturday
  • Mt.Gox was one of the world's largest bitcoin exchanges until last year

(CNN)Japanese police have arrested the head of the Mt.Gox bitcoin exchange company over the loss of a "massive amount" of the virtual online currency.

Mark Karpeles was detained Saturday, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement.

He is suspected of accessing the exchange's computer system and falsifying data to change the outstanding balance, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported ,citing the Metropolitan Police Department.

A day earlier, a report emerged that Karpeles was going to be arrested, prompting him to send a message to The Wall Street Journal describing the allegations as "false." He told the paper that he planned to deny them.

Mt.Gox was one of the world's largest bitcoin exchanges until February last year, when it stopped investors from accessing money after becoming the target of online hackers.

The exchange later filed for bankruptcy debts of 6.5 billion yen ($64 million).

According to its statements, Mt.Gox made $380,450 in revenue during 2012. However, it lost 13 times that amount the next year, when it also handed more than $5 million to the U.S. government for allegedly lying on bank documents.

At the time of its closure, Mt.Gox said that it couldn't find 850,000 bitcoins, leaving angry customers out of pocket.

However, soon after, the company said it had recovered 200,000 bitcoins -- worth about $56 million at today's rates -- from an old-format wallet used before June 2011.

That reduced the number of missing bitcoins to 650,000, or around $183 million at current rates.

CNN's Radina Gigova contributed to this report

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