Collapsed Bitcoin exchange boss faces USD 2.6 mn theft claim

The former head of MtGox reportedly faced fresh criminal charges today over allegations he stole USD 2.6 million from clients, as police questioned him about hundreds of millions of dollars worth of missing Bitcoins.

Japanese authorities issued a fresh arrest warrant for France-born Mark Karpeles, over claims he stole millions from clients before the Bitcoin exchange collapsed, local media reported, including about USD 48,000 he allegedly spent on a luxury canopy bed.

Karpeles, 30, who has reportedly denied the allegations, was initially taken into custody this month over the affair and has been held without formal charges for three weeks, as allowed under Japanese law. Police declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

With his time in custody set to end this week, a fresh arrest warrant would reset the clock on how long police can hold him and grill the self-described computer geek over the missing money.

Karpeles was first taken into custody over claims he fraudulently tinkered with data and transferred funds to other firms controlled by him dozens of times between 2011 and 2013.

However, police are also reportedly interested in questioning Karpeles about the disappearance of 850,000 coins last year, valued at around USD 480 million then and USD 387 million at current exchange rates.

Tokyo-based MtGox froze withdrawals in early 2014 and was later shuttered over the missing money, which it said was linked to a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoins that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

The exchange — which once boasted it handled around 80 percent of global Bitcoin transactions — filed for bankruptcy protection soon after the cyber-money went missing.

Karpeles later said he had found some 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.

Investors have demanded answers from Karpeles and called

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