Mt. Gox trustee leaves door open to revival of Bitcoin exchange

Investors meet the bankruptcy trustee, but get few answers

The trustee overseeing the carcass of Mt. Gox, once the world's largest trading platform for Bitcoin, told investors Wednesday that the company could be revived.

Speaking to a meeting of people whose bitcoins evaporated in the fall of Mt. Gox, Nobuaki Kobayashi said he is searching for a company that wants to take over the business.

"Several companies showed interest and I continue to conduct the selection process," the court-appointed lawyer wrote in a document posted to the Mt. Gox website.

The statement follows a liquidation order by the Tokyo District Court, where Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 28 with liabilities of ¥6.5 billion ($63.6 million).

In February, Mt. Gox said some 850,000 bitcoins were unaccounted for, worth roughly $474 million at the time, and could have been stolen by hackers. It later said 200,000 bitcoins had been found in an old-format wallet.

A few suitors for the company's remaining assets have emerged, including BitOcean Japan, a Tokyo-based startup that aims to set up a bitcoin exchange in Japan.

"We didn't learn much," BitOcean Japan co-founder Daniel Kelman said about the meeting. "The only positive note was when Kobayashi said he would consider distributing bitcoins as bitcoins. He asked people to raise their hands if they wanted bitcoins back, and everyone proceeded to raise their hands, which turned into a round of applause."

Investors want any bitcoins to be returned to them as bitcoins instead of traditional currency so they won't lose value in the fluctuations of the volatile digital currency. Converting them to cash would entail commissions of 10 to 15 percent of the total sale value, Kelman said.

If the trustee doesn't give investors bitcoins, Kelman wants to form a creditor committee, have it certified by the court and gain oversight power over Kobayashi.

Even the appearance of Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles, who has kept a low profile since the Feb. 28 filing, didn't appease investors. He issued another apology for the fiasco, which sent shock waves through the Bitcoin community.

"Really we got nothing from today, other than certainty that the trustee doesn't understand bitcoin and is only concerned about covering his own ass," said Aaron G, a Mt. Gox investor who didn't want his last name being used.

Karpeles was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper as saying that he will continue managing Tibanne, the parent of Mt. Gox, and use profits made there to help those who lost bitcoins in Mt. Gox. He did not immediately reply to a request for more information.

Kobayashi, meanwhile, said in the document that the investigation into the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of bitcoins is continuing.

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Tags internetfinanceindustry verticalsInternet-based applications and servicesMt. Gox

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Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
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