Meanwhile Tokyo Court rules that Mt. Gox can't be rehability, and that Mr. Karpelès must be investigated

Bitcoin robber baron Mark Marie "MagicalTux" Robert Karpelès has reportedly "lawyered up" according to a report by Reuters.  Mr. Karpelès needs all the legal advice he can get as he is currently under investigation in the U.S. by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the law enforcement wing of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

I. Pleading the Fifth

Weeks after having his U.S. assets frozen and having "magically" found 200,000 of the 850,000 Bitcoins that he claimed hackers stole, Mr. Karpelès continues to face tough questions about whether he still holds the remaining missing Bitcoins (which he continues to insist are stolen).  His opponents in court believe he stole their coins in a shameless cash grab and are fighting to try to prevent the Tokyo Court from authorizing Mr. Karpelès' bankruptcy and proposed liquidation of Mt. Gox KK as it currently stands.

The FinCEN has subpoenaed Mr. Karpelès, demanding he travel to the U.S. to appear in court to answer questions under oath.  His answer is simple, according to his lawyers -- no way.

Mark Karpelès has refused to come to the U.S. to testify about his possible financial crimes.
[Image Source: Mark Karpelès on Flickr; Fair Use clause TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 107]

Mr. Karpelès has indicated that he will fight any sort of extradition effort, according to Reuters.

In a court filing his lawyers write:

Mr. Karpelès is now in the process of obtaining counsel to represent him with respect to the FinCEN Subpoena. Until such time as counsel is retained and has an opportunity to 'get up to speed' and advise Mr. Karpelès, he is not willing to travel to the U.S.

The FinCEN had requested in their subpoena that Mr. Karpelès travel to Washington D.C. on Friday to testify.

II. No Rehabilitation Possible

The Tokyo High Court dealt a key blow to Mt. Gox KK on Tuesday.  The court ordered that so called "civil rehabilitation proceedings" -- basically, Mr. Karpelès' proposed plot to avoid liquidation by rebranding Mt. Gox and selling it to an investor -- would be impossible due to the business' tarnished image and potentially criminal conduct.  The court also ruled that for the bankruptcy to proceed, Mr. Karpelès must be investigated for fraud.

Tokyo High Court
The Tokyo District/High Court [Image Source: Atom Tokyo]

The court writes on Mt. Gox's website (translated by Reuters and Cryptocoins News from Japanese):

MtGox Co., Ltd., applied on February 28, 2014 for commencement of a civil rehabilitation procedure at the Tokyo District Court (Tokyo District Court 2014 (rehabilitation) no. 12, the “Civil Rehabilitation Procedure”).

During the following 1 month and a half, an investigation has proceeded with regard to the past factual elements related to the disappearance of bitcoins and missing funds which were the cause of said application, but it is expected that said investigation will still require some time and at this time, there are no prospects for the restart of the business.

Further, MtGox Co., Ltd. is continuing the negotiations with sponsor candidates but the concrete selection process has not yet started.

Taking into account this situation and the fact that the drafting of a rehabilitation plan and its adoption or approval appear difficult, after consultation with the Court and the Supervisor on the continuation of the procedure, the Tokyo District Court decided today to dismiss the application for commencement of a civil rehabilitation and at the same time, an order for Provisional Administration was issued and Attorney-at-law Nobuaki Kobayashi (Supervisor and Examiner under the Civil Rehabilitation Procedure) was appointed Provisional Administrator.
It is expected that, if the bankruptcy proceedings commence, an investigation regarding the liability of the representative director of the company will be conducted as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Mt. Gox KK's assets -- and Tibanne KK and Mr. Karpelès assets, it appears -- are under the control of Nobuaki Kobayashi, the court-appointed administrator, at least for now.

III. Mt. Gox for $1?

It's possible under the court order that Mt. Gox could still be sold as part of the liquidation process.  Brock Pierce -- a child actor from films such as The Might Ducks series who today works as an investor -- offered a token bid of $1 USD last week, along with a coalition of other investors, according to the news agencies.  Hopes of a large bid, though, have faded fast.

Brock Pierce
Former Mighty Ducks actor Brock Pierce led a group of investors who submitted a bid of $1 USD for Mt. Gox this week. [Image Source: Disney]

If Mr. Karpelès proves unwilling or unable to "find" more of his "missing" bitcoins, then it seems likely that creditors to Mt. Gox -- including its users -- will lose a large portion of their holdings.

In his lawyers court filings, Mt. Gox KK and Mr. Karpelès have been careful to use ambiguous language, so that if indeed he has absconded with his customers coins, at least he hasn't lied in court -- not in a technical sense, at least.

Karpeles smirking
Mark Karpelès will also face a fraud investigation in Japan, according to the Tokyo Court.
[Image Source: Mark Karpelès on Flickr; Fair Use clause TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 107]

Mt. Gox KK's U.S. subisidiaries -- which are also under fire from breach of contract lawsuits -- are scheduled to appear in court this month, but its lawayers are requesting that Judge Harlin Hale of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas push the hearing to May 5.  However, they can't promise will be there, even if the court orders the delay.

Mr. Karpelès, who currently resides in a luxury Tokyo high rise, is fighting to shield Mt. Gox's parent company Tibanne KK from the bankruptcy.  That way he can keep much of his assets and potentially keep Mt. Gox KK's headquarters building as well -- which is technically owned by Tibanne KK.  It appears likely, however, that he will lose the French coffee shop/wine bar/bistro "The Bitcoin Cafe" that he had poured millions into building.

Sources: Mt. Gox [1, PDF], [2, PDF], Reuters, Cryptocoins News

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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