Karpelès, deposed “baron” of bitcoin, wants to create a rating agency for cryptocurrencies – 04/11/2022 at 12:25

Mark Karpelès, founder of UNGOX and former head of bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox in Tokyo on April 11, 2022 (AFP/Charly TRIBALLEAU)

Mark Karpelès, former head of the exchange platform


s Mt. Gox, which went bankrupt in 2014 after a hack, wants to launch a rating agency in the cryptocurrency sector, where “a lot remains to be done in terms of security”, he recalls.

“I have known almost all the problems that an exchange platform can encounter (…), I have accumulated a lot of experience in cryptocurrencies. My goal is that this (the Mt. Gox affair, editor’s note) does not happen again, said this French businessman living in Japan at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday.

In early 2014, a bitcoin heist worth nearly $470 million forced Mt. Gox into bankruptcy. This Japanese company was, at the time of the events, the main global platform for transactions in this virtual currency.

The fall had been hard for Mr. Karpelès. The man once dubbed the “bitcoin baron” spent nearly a year in pretrial detention in Japan, where courts suspected him of embezzling funds for personal enrichment.

Having always asserted his innocence, he finally received a two-and-a-half year suspended prison sentence in 2019, after being essentially acquitted but found guilty of electronic data tampering. His conviction was upheld on appeal in 2020.

“Much remains to be done in terms of security” in cryptocurrency transactions, Mr. Karpelès said on Monday, taking as an example the recent theft equivalent to some 600 million dollars of which the Ronin network, used for online gambling Axie Infinity.

– Parallels with the Ghosn case –

It plans to launch “Ungox” in the third quarter of 2022, an independent site that evaluates the risk levels of different platforms and projects in cryptocurrencies, with a free part and paid premium content, also imagining auditing services for companies present or wishing to Enterokay. this market, which is often considered very opaque.

The businessman immediately ruled out the use of advertising revenue to “stay independent”, and estimated at three million dollars the need for financing for the first two years of the site, which would require “at least ten full-time analysts”.

Mr. Karpelès’s stumbles with Japanese justice had attracted much less light than those of Carlos Ghosn a few years later, but the similarities between their respective legal disputes in Japan were numerous.

The fallen bitcoin “baron” had also met Ghosn twice in 2019, when the former Renault-Nissan boss was still out on bail in Japan.

“I told him that in Japan, if you fight, you can get an acquittal, but it takes years,” Karpelès said on Monday, who said he was “a little sad” about Ghosn’s flight to Lebanon at the end of 2019.

“I really wanted him to fight in Japan, because he had the means to do it and the impact (media, editor’s note) necessary to improve the local judicial system,” he added. From now on, it will probably be “much more difficult” to get out on bail in Japan, “especially for foreigners,” he still estimated.

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