News / Economy

Mt. Gox Files for Bankruptcy, Blames Hackers for Losses

Mark Karpeles (2nd L), chief executive of Mt. Gox, attends a news conference at the Tokyo District Court in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 28, 2014.
Mark Karpeles (2nd L), chief executive of Mt. Gox, attends a news conference at the Tokyo District Court in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 28, 2014.
Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan on Friday, saying it may have lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the virtual coins due to hacking into its faulty computer system.

The collapse caps a tumultuous few weeks in which the company has remained virtually silent after halting trades of the crypto-currency, shaking the nascent but burgeoning bitcoin community.

Wearing a suit instead of his customary T-shirt, Mt. Gox's French CEO Mark Karpeles bowed in contrition and apologized in Japanese at a news conference at the Tokyo District Court, blaming his firm's collapse on a “weakness in our system,” but predicting that bitcoin would continue to grow.

“First of all, I'm very sorry,” he said. “The bitcoin industry is healthy and it is growing. It will continue, and reducing the impact is the most important point.”

Angry investors have been seeking answers for what happened to their holdings of cash and bitcoins on the unregulated Tokyo-based exchange.

Mt. Gox said the exchange, used overwhelmingly by foreigners, had lost 750,000 of its users' bitcoins and 100,000 of its own. At the current bitcoin price of about $565, that would total some $480 million - representing about 7 percent of the estimated global total of bitcoins.

It also said there was a discrepancy of 2.8 billion yen ($27.4 million) in its bank accounts when it checked on Monday. Junko Suetomi, a lawyer with Baker & MacKenzie, said she could not comment on the balances of foreign bank accounts held by the company.

Problem with exchange, not bitcoin

Many bitcoin market participants have said Mt. Gox's problems were specific to the company and were caused by what they said was a lax attitude by Karpeles, while bitcoin itself - free of any central bank control - was still a noble venture.

“If we could agree on legal regulation, we should let (bitcoin and regulators) co-exist,” said Keiichi Hida, a bitcoin investor and member of the Japan Digital Money Association. He lost about 100,000 yen worth of bitcoins, but seemed unconcerned as he became interested in the virtual currency as a form of “study”.

“We should make it a national project to have bitcoin used nationwide at the time of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he said.

Mt. Gox deleted its website on Tuesday after freezing withdrawals earlier this month in the wake of a series of technical difficulties.

The exchange had liabilities of 6.5 billion yen ($63.67 million), dwarfing its total assets of 3.84 billion yen, the company said. It had 127,000 creditors in bankruptcy, just over 1,000 of whom are Japanese.

The company and Karpeles have said little in the days before Friday's court filing, which is similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, except that they were working with others to resolve their problems.

Another lawyer, Akio Shinomiya at Yodoyabashi and Yamagami, said Mt. Gox wanted to file a criminal complaint against what he said was a hacking attack, but had no specific means of doing so.

“Bitcoin has always been volatile and speculative, said bitcoin user Ken Shishido, who had about a tenth of his bitcoin holdings at Mt. Gox, but has seen the rest of his bitcoins soar tenfold since he began trading 18 months ago.

“It's too bad that this happened, but we have to let it go. And then we'll buy more.”

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.