A Guilty Verdict, Impatient Creditors and a Resurrecting Movement: Mt. Gox Saga Continues
It is one of the biggest cryptocurrency hacks of all time and still remains the biggest Bitcoin (BTC) hack the world has ever seen. The 2011, a security breach on Mt. Gox’s platform, the now-defunct Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, saw 850,000 Bitcoin stolen. Although 200,000 BTC have since been recovered, the subsequent closure of the exchange in 2014 left 24,000 creditors in its wake.
Eight years later, the story continues with its villainized ex-CEO, Mark Karpeles, at the forefront and creditors still in the dark as to what a payout agreement would look like.
In early February 2019, Cointelegraph reported on an alleged photo, posted on Reddit, that showed a former business partner of Mt. Gox, CoinLab, filing a 1.7 trillion Japanese yen claim against the late exchange. This is an increase on its original claim of $75 million that it sued Mt. Gox for in 2013. The original lawsuit was filed for a breach of contract, with CoinLab claiming that it was supposed to take over the American customers of Mt. Gox, according to a contract between the two parties. But it never happened. Some crypto community members are of the opinion that this inflated claim will delay creditor payments even further.
Industry commentators also believe that the trustee responsible for managing the remaining Mt. Gox assets, Tokyo lawyer Nobuaki Kobayashi, might be partially responsible for the Bitcoin crash at the beginning of 2018, due to the thousands of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) that were “dumped” into the market. This totalled around $700 million by the end of June 2018. Although other analysts believe that the launch of the CME Bitcoin futures also had a role to play in the market crash. The San Francisco Federal Reserve stated at the time:
“The rapid run-up and subsequent fall in the price after the introduction of futures does not appear to be a coincidence. It is consistent with trading behavior that typically accompanies the introduction of futures markets for an asset.”
In February 2019, there were also talks of a Mt. Gox revival of sorts, with prominent blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneur Brock Pierce starting a movement called Gox Rising. The movement has four main goals, according to its website:
To keep creditors informed.
To support rapid creditor payouts.
To maximize distribution to creditors.
To revive the exchange.
Pierce said at Gox Rising’s first industry public appearance at BTC Miami that, “The GoxRising movement aims to restore the creditors’ losses as well as the world’s faith in the cryptocurrency industry.”
Former Mt. Gox CEO Karpeles quickly shot down the feasibility of Pierce’s plans to revive the Mt. Gox exchange through the Gox Rising movement. Karpeles said to Cointelegraph, “As to distributing assets faster than the trustee, I haven’t heard at this point anything that would make this possible from Gox Rising [sic]. The published plans seem to imply reviving Mt. Gox and creating a lot of complex legal structures, which may take time to happen.”
A lot of the focus surrounding Mt. Gox’s ongoing saga is naturally on Karpeles. On Feb. 28, Karpeles was denied his motion to stay the United States lawsuit against him in light of rehabilitation proceedings in Japan. These proceedings were brought against Karpeles personally by former Mt. Gox investors Gregory Greene and Anthony Motto, and are separate from the continuing civil proceedings in Japan.
On March 15, the Tokyo District Court found the former Mt. Gox CEO guilty of record tampering, but acquitted him of embezzlement, reportedly stating that the former Mt. Gox CEO sometimes mixed his personal finances with those of the exchange and fiddled with its accounts, apparently to hide the fact that the platform had lost money to hackers.
Two weeks later, Japanese newspaper The Mainichi reported that prosecutors have decided to drop their appeal against the embezzlement acquittal, meaning the court’s verdict of a two-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence would stand. However, on the same day, it was reported that Karpeles decided to appeal his conviction of record tampering. Karpeles told The Associated Press:
“I believe appealing to the judgment is appropriate so that I can be judged again in full consideration of all the facts.”
In the midst of all this, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for impatient creditors. On March 19, Mt. Gox trustee Kobayashi announced he has concluded the processing of creditors’ rehabilitation claims and that they will be notified of the results within days. The English-translated announcement read:
“In a few days, the Rehabilitation Trustee will make the results of approval or disapproval of Exchange-Related Rehabilitation Claims available to Users who filed their Exchange-Related Rehabilitation Claims”