Mark Karpeles, the founder and CEO of Mt.Gox exchange service has refused to come to the USA after receiving a subpoena to give evidence on the bankruptcy case, according to an announcement made by lawyers involved in the matter.
The official statement provided to the press says that Mark Karpeles is “not willing to travel to the U.S.” Bankruptcy Judge Stacey Jernigan set the hearing under oath on Thursday. The questioning will be performed by lawyers of the victims, who have suffered material losses due to frozen accounts.
The refusal was initiated by lawyers of Mr. Karpeles, who claimed a conflict in the legal proceedings. Apart from the aforementioned appointment the witness/ accused should stand in front of U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network on Friday.
The department investigates incidences of money laundering and some time ago published guidance on the subject. However, Mr. Karpeles’ lawyer insists that the representatives of the department “did not specify topics for discussion”.
The official reply from the team of Mark Karpeles says:
“Until such time as counsel is retained and has an opportunity to 'get up to speed' and advise Mr. Karpeles [on the Treasury subpoena], he is not willing to travel to the U.S.”
The lawyers are also requesting to postpone the hearings until May 5.
The official side of the case has refused to provide any comment on the existing correspondence with the lawyers.
Additional complications arise due to the muddiness of the accusations. Karpeles has not committed any crime because he has not been officially prosecuted. The Department of Homeland Security is holding US$5.1 million belonging to the company according to a federal money laundering statute. Such an offense can be punished not only with fines, but also lead to arrest or even both.
As about 550,000 bitcoins went missing from one of the world’s leading exchangers, Judge Jernigan agreed to refer Mr. Karpeles as a witness:
“[Mark Karpeles] has made himself a fact witness by signing [court papers and] by holding himself out to this court and the world as the...CEO or sole officer of Mt. Gox.”
Karpele's involvement in the case cannot be denied as he owns 88% of the Japanese entity to whom Mt.Gox belongs. Official and online attempts to blame the Bitcoin protocol also seem dubious in current conditions. The documents say:
“[The reason behind the loss of funds is a] bug in the Bitcoin software algorithm, which was exploited by one or more persons who hacked the Bitcoin network.”
Victims from the USA and other countries are attempting to unite to mount a possible potential class-action lawsuit. There are 127,000 customers who have used Mt.Gox services and might have suffered particular losses.
To avoid possible attacks from clients, the team of lawyers has filed for bankruptcy not only in Japan, but also in Texas. In accordance with Chapter 15 the company petitioning for the status has to prove reorganization and optimization activities to receive the seized funds.
The aftermath of Karpeles' refusal to travel to US after receipt a subpoena is still unclear, but the judicial hearings are set for May 20.