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After Arrest of Mt. Gox CEO, Former Colleague Ashley Barr Holds Reddit AMA

The ex-employee offered some insight into the disaster that was Mt. Gox.

by Kari Paul
Aug 1 2015, 8:13pm

Mark Karpeles is arrested in Japan (Image: FNN News)

The arrest on Saturday of Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of failed Bitcoin exchange MtGox, did not come as a surprise to those familiar with the company's catastrophic downfall. The eccentric entrepreneur is well known for tales of his financial and entrepreneurial blunders, many of which ultimately led to the implosion of the company and disappearance of more than $400 million in Bitcoin in early 2014.

After the arrest, Ashley Barr, a former MtGox employee, apparently took to Reddit to add to the canon of Karpeles lore, describing what it was like to work with the man behind the disaster.

"I'm Ashley Barr, A.K.A 'Adam Turner', the first Mt.Gox employee," wrote the user. It's possible someone else is posing as Ashley Barr—a real person who was referred to in court documents—but the fact that this user is in control of both the long-running "MtGox_admin" and "MtGox_Adam" Reddit accounts suggest it's really him.

Unsurprisingly, Barr is not on good terms with Karpeles today.

"We plan to eat pizza in front of Mark while he is in Prison," Barr wrote. He went on to detail many of the negligent practices Karpeles carried out at MtGox, including that nobody at MtGox had access to its the database of its users' cold wallet addresses, where bitcoins were stored offline for added security.

"As far as I know, no one else at Mt.Gox ever had access to the backend of Mt.Gox, nor the cold wallets," Barr wrote, adding that Karpeles refused to share the information with anyone despite people warning him everyone's money would be gone if something were to happen to him.

"He's still a mystery to me, and absolutely unpredictable."

"We had multiple meetings about this... the response was laughable," he wrote. "Mark said that if he died there would be hints that one of his best friends could follow to find and unlock the cold-wallets. When I asked said friend, he said he had no idea what Mark was talking about."

Barr also described how Karpeles tried to make him CEO of MtGox, only to dismiss him after he requested Karpeles show him the financials of the company and explain discrepancies between profits and expenses he reported.

"The expenditures far exceeded every model we had for income," he wrote of his investigation into the exchange he and other employees carried out. "I confronted Mark about it, told him I couldn't take the role if he couldn't explain this gross incompetence in spending (he was also asking employees other than myself to find investors...something impossible without knowing the financial status of the company). Around the same time, we learned that Mark only had one bank account, shared with Mt.Gox's customer deposits. That was the nail in the coffin."

All in all, the AMA is a great window into the mind of one of the more baffling figures in tech in recent years. One user asked Barr if he thought Karpeles was psychopathic, but Barr speculated otherwise.

"He had(has) the ego of someone wanting to prove themselves, some anti-social behaviours, some social behaviours, and everything in between," Barr wrote. "He's still a mystery to me, and absolutely unpredictable. He's a mindfuck, and that's coming from someone who knows people (in my own opinion) pretty well."