There’s nothing suspicious about a forgotten bitcoin cache worth $100 million, says Mt Gox CEO Mark Karpeles
Bankrupt bitcoin exchange Mt Gox says it has discovered 200,000 BTC stored in one of its old electronic wallets that hasn’t been accessed since 2011.This amount of virtual currency is worth around $116 million (£70m) on the open market.
At the end of February, Mt Gox acknowledged it lost at least 750,000 BTC belonging to its customers, along with 100,000 of its own bitcoins. The money was allegedly taken by hackers who abused vulnerabilities in the exchange’s custom software.
Together with 2,000 coins which were collected after Mt Gox started ‘civil rehabilitation proceedings’, the discovery brings the amount of missing bitcoins down to 648,000. It is currently unclear how and when the recovered funds will be making their way into the hands of Mt Gox customers.
“Please note that the reasons for their disappearance and the exact number of bitcoins which disappeared is still under investigation and that the above figures may still change depending on the results of the investigation,” notes a statement from Mt Gox CEO Mark Karpeles.
Earlier this week, the exchange enabled customers to check their balances for the first time since the it went offline in February.
How to misplace $100,000,000
Mt Gox was established in 2010 as Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange – a platform for trading collectible game cards, but its focus soon shifted to a more lucrative business – transactions in digital currency.
By 2013, it was the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world, processing as many as two thirds of all BTC transactions. On 7 February, the exchange temporarily stopped all withdrawals, while it was investigating “unusual activity” in its systems. Two weeks later, the website suddenly went offline, amidst rumours of insolvency.
These rumours were confirmed by Karpeles on 28 February, shocking over 100,000 Mt Gox users who had their money stored on the platform and temporarily destabilising the bitcoin market.
According to a statement by Karpeles, the company “had certain old-format wallets which were used in the past and which, MtGox thought, no longer held any bitcoins. Following the application for commencement of a civil rehabilitation proceeding, these wallets were rescanned and their balance researched.
“On March 7, 2014, MtGox confirmed that an old-format wallet which was used prior to June 2011 held a balance of approximately 200,000 BTC.”
The Mt Gox team promptly reported their find to the court-appointed counsels and a week later moved the bitcoins to an offline wallet for security reasons. “These bitcoin movements, including the change in the manner in which these coins were stored, had been reported to the court and the supervisor by counsels,” added the CEO, trying to quash the rumours that Mt Gox was taking its customers for a ride.
Hackers who compromised Karpeles’ personal blog, Reddit and Tumblr accounts previously claimed the firm had been dishonest about the amount of bitcoins it still had access to.
Meanwhile in the US, a customer who had $25,000 in BTC on Mt Gox has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of negligence and fraud.
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