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Mt. Gox CEO Denies Silk Road Involvement: 'I Am Not Dread Pirate Roberts'

The defense for Ross Ulbricht accused Mark Karpeles of being the real kingpin behind Silk Road.

by Jason Koebler
Jan 16 2015, 1:40am

Mark Karpeles. Image: Mark Karpeles/Twitter

Mark Karpeles, the CEO of Mt. Gox—which was once the world's most popular Bitcoin exchange—has denied any involvement in Silk Road and has told Motherboard that he's not Dread Pirate Roberts, the man who allegedly ran the site.

Earlier today, the defense for Ross Ulbricht, who is currently standing trial for allegedly running Silk Road, accused Karpeles of being the real mastermind behind the site, suggesting that Ulbricht was framed by Karpeles as part of a ploy to increase the value of Bitcoin.

In an email sent to Motherboard, Karpeles categorically denied the accusation.

"I am not Dread Pirate Roberts," he wrote.

"I have nothing to do with Silk Road and do not condone what has been happening there," he added. "The investigation reached that conclusion already—this is why I am not the one sitting during the Silk Road trial."

While cross-examining Jared DerYeghiayan, the homeland security agent who investigated Silk Road, Ulbricht's defense attorney Joshua Dratel read emails from DerYeghiayan that said the government had "a wealth of evidence to prove that [Karpeles] is Dread Pirate Roberts."

"[Silk Road] would be a device for leveraging the value of Bitcoin, and if he could create a site independent of Bitcoin, you could control the value of Bitcoin," Dratel said, reading from DerYeghiayan's emails.

Dratel's "wealth of evidence" has not come out yet, because the prosecution asked for a temporary adjournment given what it suggested was a new theory it hadn't had time to prepare for.

Between 2010 and 2013, Mt. Gox grew to become the world's largest Bitcoin exchange, but was shut down after more than 850,000 Bitcoins belonging to customers were lost or stolen (what, exactly happened to them is an ongoing mystery), leading the site into bankruptcy.

Karpeles told Motherboard in a second email that he does not know who Dread Pirate Roberts is.

"I do not have enough elements to say if Ross Ulbricht is or is not guilty," he said. "I learned about him the day his arrest was published in the news."

Here is Karpeles's full statement:

"This is probably going to be disappointing for you, but I am not Dread Pirate Roberts. The investigation reached that conclusion already - this is why I am not the one sitting during the Silk Road trial, and I can only feel defense attorney Joshua Dratel trying everything he can to point the attention away from his client.

I have nothing to do with Silk Road and do not condone what has been happening there. I believe Bitcoin (and its underlying technology) is not meant to help people evade the law, but to improve everyone's way of life by offering never thought before possibilities.

As for the domain, it was registered by a customer and paid in Bitcoins (KalyHost is a service of Tibanne that has been up since 2009)."

The trial has been adjourned until Tuesday. Motherboard will continue to cover new developments in the proceedings.

Silk Road
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Ross Ulbricht
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