The New Mystery of MTGOX Bankruptcy

By Jun Fukuda : Reporter of Toyokeizai
March 22,2014
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Mr.Mark Karpeles(right) have to explain where 530,000 BTC is.    Photo by Fumishige Ogata

Having become insolvent, MTGOX (Shibuya, Tokyo), which operated an exchange for the virtual currency bitcoin, filed with the Tokyo District Court on February 28 for civil rehabilitation proceedings.

No decision regarding the initiation of civil rehabilitation proceedings has been forthcoming from the Tokyo District Court during the three weeks since then. Such decisions regarding initiation are generally forthcoming within one to two weeks, but no decision has been issued yet, and so MTGOX has not even been able to approach the starting line for rehabilitation.

The new mystery

Amid these circumstances, some new facts have come to light through news reporting. These include the fact that a creditor’s representative filed a petition with the Tokyo District Court dated March 11, noting inexplicable post-insolvency developments at MTGOX. Appended to the petition were materials from the website COINSIGHT showing a bitcoin transaction history in which evidence was presented indicating transactions of at least 530,000 bitcoins at MTGOX from March 7 through 10.

The text includes this passage: “Requests regarding massive bitcoin withdrawals were made which should have been impossible for anyone other than those with special bitcoin exchange access rights, such as representatives (i.e., Mark Karpeles) of the rehabilitation debtor (MTGOX).” The amounts of these withdrawals are shown in the table in the reference materials below.

Appended to the petition were materials from the website COINSIGHT showing a bitcoin transaction history in which evidence was presented indicating transactions of at least 530,000 bitcoins at MTGOX from March 7 through 10.

Regarding the approximate total of 850,000 bitcoins owned by the company and its clients, it was explained by MTGOX in a February 28 press conference on the bankruptcy that, “Virtually all of it is gone.” The petition asks emphatically, “How is it possible to perform transactions with something that is supposed to have disappeared?” If there were transactions during early March, then the explanation by MTGOX of “bitcoin loss” is not factual. On March 20, in fact, MTGOX issued a news release stating that, “On March 7, the presence of 200,000 bitcoins was confirmed.”

When a request for an opinion on the petition was made of Nobuaki Kobayashi, an attorney serving on the oversight committee for the MTGOX civil rehabilitation case, the only reply received came from his secretary: “No response can be given to questions regarding this case.” What could be the aims of MTGOX, which shut its doors with baffling abruptness just two days after announcing on February 26 that all transactions were being halted? The mystery remains entirely unresolved.