Bitcoin Exchange founder Mark Karpelès speaks to the Wall Street Journal

By
Samuel Barnes @gravysam
June 28, 2014
Mark Karpelès, CEO of defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, spoke to media for the first time since the supposed theft of 850,000 Bitcoins.

Mark Karpelès, former head of Mt. Gox, recently spoke to the Wall Street Journal. This is his first media interview since the theft of approximately half a billion dollars worth of Bitcoin from his exchange last February. The interview was conducted from his home, details of which where revealed in the writeup. A possible oversight for the Wall Street Journal, who should realise that specifying he lives on the top floor of a 33-story building in Tokyo’s Meguro neighbourhood is a potential security threat. Nevertheless Karpelès, a man of few words, gave an exclusive insight into his side of the story.

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Karpelès states that he is currently in cooperation with a court-appointed trustee in regards to the Mt. Gox trial and is focused on trying to keep Tibanne, his other company, running despite the implications of the ongoing trial. Karpelès also extends deepest apologies to those who where affected by the Mt. Gox theft and “swear(s) I haven’t been doing anything too luxurious”. I suppose spending $35,000 on a pastry oven, $23,000 on a coffee machine and hiring a pastry consultant for his side project a Bitcoin Cafe isn’t a luxurious expense according to Karpelès. He also reveals that security of the Mt. Gox exchange was not only flawed on the software side, but also physically and recounts a time when a stranger was able to walk into their office and take things.

There have been various theories from the Bitcoin community on what happened at Mt. Gox. They range from an inside job possibly conducted by former employees to Karpelès embezzling the Bitcoins himself. Karpelès dances around specifics in the Wall Street Journal interview under the context that “the police are investigating the case so I won’t be able to say much” which would make sense if he hadn’t had disclosed information about the physical intrusion during the interview.

Karpelès gave explanations of how he felt when he realised that the exchange had lost the enormous holding of Bitcoin in February. Karpelès summarises his feelings at the time as “scared, frustrated and angry” and said that he had spent many sleepless nights over the whole situation. Since the initial loss of the 850,00 Bitcoin units, Karpelès miraculously found 200,000 Bitcoin and very little detail has been given so far on exactly where these came from. This has further increased disdain for his lack of transparency and suspicion on his intentions from the community and especially those affected.

One possible avenue for the shell of his former Mt. Gox to take would be regrowth and rehabilitation, Karpelès is in favor of a buyout “as that’s in the interest of creditors”. A view that creditors also support with 70% of them in favor of a buyout from Sunlot Holdings, which is an investor group who offered to buy the once most popular exchange for the token sum of 1 Bitcoin.

Karpelès ends the interview by giving his views on the future of Bitcoin. Karpelès states that: “bitcoin itself must become much better. Right now, it is so easy to use it for illegal activities, such as money laundering and drug trading”. There are already several comments on /r/bitcoin slamming Karpelès for these statements taking them as evidence of his incompetence and disillusion of what is going on in the cryptocurrency scene right now.

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