Jon Montroll, formerly the head of the BitFunder Bitcoin exchange platform, was charged yesterday with perjury and obstruction of justice relating to a Bitcoin theft from 2013. The SEC have also filed a lawsuit of their own, accusing him of various charges, including the running of an unregulated securities exchange.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan allege that Montroll lied to the US SEC to mislead them over a theft of 6,000 Bitcoin. At the time of the hack they were worth $775,075. Those Bitcoin would now be worth almost $70 million.

According to attorney Geoffrey Berman, “the defendant repeatedly lied during sworn testimony and misled SEC staff to avoid taking personal responsibility for the loss of thousands of his customers’ Bitcoins”.

Montroll was behind BitFunder.com, where virtual shares of businesses could be exchanged for Bitcoin, and WeExchange Australia Pty Ltd, a Bitcoin exchange service.

It seems that hackers managed to get around BitFunder’s security procedures and withdraw 6,000 Bitcoin from the WeExchange site.

Rather than admit the loss, prosecutors allege that Montroll said that the issue “was corrected immediately, whenever the system started having problems, and I caught on to what was happening”. To back up his claim he produced an apparently fake screenshot showing that the exchange was still solvent.

However, prosecutors say that “contemporaneous digital evidence, including chat logs and transaction data, revealed that the Balance Statement was a misleading fabrication”. During this period Montroll was active on internet chat platforms under the name “Ukyo” and contacted another exchange owner for “help in tracking down ‘Stolen coins.’”

Montroll transferred some of his own Bitcoin holdings to the exchange to conceal the theft. The platform closed later that year. If found guilty of the most serious charge, that of obstruction of justice, Montroll faces up a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

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