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MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling

Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat

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Mark Karpelès, the founder of imploded Bitcoin exchange MtGox, says he won't come to the US to answer officials' questions after his trading website mislaid 850,000 BTC.

Lawyers for MtGox said Karpelès had received a subpoena from the US Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to come to a deposition in Washington on Friday, 18 April – the day after he's due to give evidence in Dallas, Texas, for his bankruptcy protection case.

Japan-based Karpelès filed for bankruptcy protection in America in February after admitting his firm MtGox, once the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, had “lost” 750,000 of its customers’ BTC and 100,000 of its own “due to weaknesses in the system”. Altogether, that "lost" Bitcoin pile is worth $429m or £256m at today's exchange rates.

In paperwork submitted to the Texan bankruptcy court and seen by The Register this week, Karpelès said he needed more time to put together a legal defense team for the showdown with FinCEN, and until then he will not travel to the United States.

Karpelès was earlier ordered by a judge to jet into the Lone Star State and give evidence at his bankruptcy protection hearing, but his legal eagles handling that case still hope to postpone that to 5 May, or successfully argue that he shouldn't have to set foot on Uncle Sam's soil.

According to his lawyers, MtGox boss received the FinCEN subpoena through his civil litigation counsel, who is tackling a lawsuit brought by angry out-of-pocket MtGox users in Chicago. The criminal enforcement organisation had not specified what exactly it wants to talk to him about.

Meanwhile, the exchange told a bankruptcy court in Tokyo that it has debts of about $63.8m (£38m). The virtual coin firm hopes to be awarded protection in both Japan and the US from its creditors. ®

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