Former Mt. Gox CEO arrested on claims of stolen bitcoins · Dante D'Orazio. Via Techmeme | Source The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and. Kim Nilsson, a Swedish engineer who had lost 12 bitcoins in the collapse of Mt. Gox, began sharing information with federal authorities in. How did it happen? The exchange's rapid death spiral is a result of the apparent theft of , Bitcoins (six percent of all available. BITCOIN DICE REDDIT
It could democratize international finance. But it's also a technology that was pushed forward by a community of people who were unprepared or unwilling to deal with even the basics of everyday business. A new wave of entrepreneurs may bring the digital currency a new level of respectability, but over its first several years, bitcoin has been driven largely by computer geeks with little experience in the financial world. The most prominent example is Mark Karpeles. The year-old Karpeles was born in France, but after spending some time in Israel, he settled down in Japan.
There he got married, posted cat videos and became a father. In , he acquired the Mt. Gox exchange in from an American entrepreneur named Jed McCaleb. McCaleb had registered the Mtgox. He never followed through on that idea, but in late , McCaleb decided to repurpose the domain as a bitcoin exchange. The idea was simple: he'd provide a single place to connect bitcoin buyers and sellers.
But soon, McCaleb was getting wires for tens of thousands of dollars and, realizing he was in over his head, he sold the site to Karpeles, an avid programmer, foodie, and bitcoin enthusiast who called himself Magicaltux in online forums. Karpeles soon set about rewriting the site's back-end software, eventually turning it into the world's most popular bitcoin exchange. A June hack took the site offline for several days, and according to bitcoin enthusiasts Jesse Powell and Roger Ver, who helped the company respond to the hack, Karpeles was strangely nonchalant about the crisis.
But he and Mt. Gox eventually made good on their obligations, earning a reputation as honest players in the bitcoin community. Other bitcoin companies had been hacked and lost customer funds. Most of the time, they simply folded. But Karpeles and Mt. Gox did not. Gox's largest stake holder, appeared to become an extremely wealthy man. Karpeles owns 88 percent of the company and McCaleb 12 percent, according to a leaked Mt. Gox business plan.
When Karpeles was interviewed by Reuters in the spring of -- seated, inexplicably, on top of a blue pilates ball -- he was a major player in the bitcoin world. He had ponied up 5, bitcoins to help kickstart the Bitcoin Foundation, a not-for-profit bitcoin software development and lobbying group, where he was a board member he has since resigned.
But beneath it all, some say, Mt. Gox was a disaster in waiting. Last year, a Tokyo-based software developer sat down in Gox's first-floor meeting room to talk about working for the company. Soon, however, there were some serious red flags. Gox, he says, didn't use any type of version control software -- a standard tool in any professional software development environment.
This meant that any coder could accidentally overwrite a colleague's code if they happened to be working on the same file. According to this developer, the world's largest bitcoin exchange had only recently introduced a test environment, meaning that, previously, untested software changes were pushed out to the exchanges customers -- not the kind of thing you'd see on a professionally run financial services website. And, he says, there was only one person who could approve changes to the site's source code: Mark Karpeles.
That meant that some bug fixes -- even security fixes -- could languish for weeks, waiting for Karpeles to get to the code. By the fall of , Mt. Gox's business was also a mess. Gox had tumbled from the world's number one bitcoin exchange to position number three. But Karpeles was obsessed with a new project: The Bitcoin Cafe.
Inspired by a French bistro, it would be a stylish hang-out located in the same building as the Mt. Gox offices, a very-new-looking building of metal and glass within walking distance of Tokyo's largest train station. You could drop by for a beer or some wine, and -- using a cash register proudly hacked by Mark Karpeles -- you could buy it all with bitcoin. Gox at their offices this past October -- and a company representative turned us away, saying that legal reasons prevented Mt.
Gox from talking to the press -- the placard in the lobby of the building already identified the cafe. This company representative said it would open by the end of the year. It never did. The embassy did not respond to a request for comment. Andy Pag, the founder and former coordinator of the largest group of creditors, Mt. Gox Legal at the end of March. Zheleznikov refused to discuss the sum with CoinDesk but confirmed his firm worked with two people whose money was frozen at WEX.
ZP Legal started its own investigation and the police started a preliminary investigation, and soon some people reached out to the firm and offered to compensate the WEX users' losses, he said. The firm connected the two sides and the next thing Zheleznikov heard was the victims telling him that "the matter was resolved," he told CoinDesk.
He refused to name either of the people involved in that deal. At the same time, the firm admitted it doesn't know the identities of all people involved in the theft — it will be up to law enforcement to find the culprits. Speaking to CoinDesk, Zheleznikov said the amount is an estimate based on the number of creditors ZP hopes to take on as clients. Zheleznikov stressed that his clients can expect to receive not bitcoins themselves but their fiat value now.
In the document Pag shared with the creditors, ZP describes how the loss will be calculated. A potential problem with this approach is that digital assets have no legal status in Russia at the moment, as in many other jurisdictions, and there is no clear methodology for valuing cryptocurrency. Zheleznikov admits that his firm will be acting in the absence of settled practices.
While not widely known in the Russian crypto space, Zheleznikov has a remarkable track record as an attorney for a number of cases making waves in Russia in recent years. In particular, since , Zheleznikov has been defending the Russian neo-Nazi Maxim Martsinkevich , nicknamed "Tesak" the Hatchet , who is serving a year term in Russian prison for assaulting people he and his associates believed to be drug pushers. Zheleznikov has also defended popular Russian journalist Anton Krasovsky and oligarch Konstantin Malofeev who is believed to be a sponsor of the separatist forces that confronted the Ukrainian army on the South East of Ukraine in The exchange suspended trading, filed for bankruptcy protection and began liquidation proceedings.
According to security firm WizSec , most, if not all, of the missing bitcoin were stolen from the exchange's online, or hot, wallet between and The exchange transitioned from bankruptcy proceedings to civil rehabilitation, a debtor-friendly form of corporate restructuring, last year, meaning creditors will receive bitcoin instead of a fiat sum.
However, due to a large number of claims and other ongoing legal issues, it is unclear when these funds will be returned. A deadline for filing a civil rehabilitation plan was postponed in April by Mt Gox's trustee, Nobuaki Kobayashi, and no plan will be filed before the end of October. The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies.
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Open interest in the BTC futures market is starting to decline. The Takeaway:. Moscow-based law firm ZP Legal claims to have identified Russian nationals who received bitcoin stolen in the hack of Mt Gox.
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