Update (10:45 UTC, March 21, 2019): Added details of Mt. Gox’s remaining holdings and approved payouts as provided by the trustee.
The long-defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox is finally moving toward settling creditors’ accounts in cryptocurrency or cash.
The exchange’s rehabilitation trustee, Nobuaki Kobayashi, announced Tuesday that he had either approved or disapproved creditors’ claims and had also notified the Tokyo District Court about the step taken.
In the next few days, the trustee said he will declare the results of his decisions on the claims and creditors will be notified by various means.
For instance, those who filed claims through the Mt. Gox online filing system will be able to check the results by logging into the system. Those who filed their claims through the supplementary online or the offline methods will be notified via an email from the trustee.
Creditors who did not file claims will still have their claims acknowledged by the trustee in line with the Civil Rehabilitation Act of Japan, according to the statement:
“The Rehabilitation Trustee has approved Exchange-Related Rehabilitation Claims that have been acknowledged based on balances in the MTGOX Bitcoin exchange database, including those that Users have not duly filed.”
The trustee also provided details of the current balance of the exchange on March 20, saying that in total it holds 69,553,086,521 Japanese yen ($629,594,540) in cash.
The statement added: “However, among the account balance that has been secured, the Rehabilitation Trustee has established the trust as the measure to secure the interests of bankruptcy creditors and entrusted the amount of JPY 15,894,588,396 [$143,881,490] (including an amount expected to be appropriated for various expenses of the trust) in the trust.”
The exchange also holds 141,686.35 BTC and 142,846.35 BCH, as of March 19. In total, the cryptocurrency is worth over $593 million at today’s prices.
“The Rehabilitation Trustee has been still investigating the existence of additional BTC held by the Rehabilitation Debtor,” the trustee added.
The document also indicates that it has approved claims for 802,521 BTC (worth $3,233,256,500), 792,296 BCH ($124,953,000), $38,165,664 in U.S. dollars, and other amounts in various fiat currencies.
Notably, there is a large shortfall from what is still held in crypto and what is due to be paid out. It is not clear how that matter will be addressed when payments eventually start.
The trustee also offered a timeline for finalizing a proposal for a rehabilitation plan, giving a deadline of April 26, 2019.
Mt Gox saga
Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume, officially filed for liquidation in April 2014 after claiming to have been hacked for 850,000 bitcoin, some of which was later found in a “forgotten” wallet. At the same time, it dealt a blow to investors by dropping its plan for civil rehabilitation.
After a long wait, creditors had a victory in June 2018, when the Tokyo District Court issued an order approving a petition to begin civil rehabilitation, allowing creditors to be repaid in their original crypto holdings rather then the fiat value at the time of the collapse. The petition was initially submitted in November of 2017.
When approved creditors finally start receiving their payments, bitcoin’s price could be affected if there should be a sudden flood of coins on the market. The exchange’s trustee has previously been accused of causing of a decline in bitcoin prices since December 2017 by selling off $400 million in bitcoin and bitcoin cash belonging to the estate.
“Following consultation with cryptocurrency experts, I sold BTC and BCC [BCH], not by an ordinary sale through the BTC/BCC exchange, but in a manner that would avoid affecting the market price, while ensuring the security of the transaction to the [greatest] extent possible,” Kobayashi responded in a Q&A with creditors.
Early last month, Goxdox, a site dedicated to supporting the creditors of Mt. Gox, published images of bank transactions, showing that millions of dollars-worth of cryptocurrency from Mt. Gox may have been sold on the the open market through Japan’s BitPoint exchange in 2018, which, the site suggested, may have led to sharp volatility in bitcoin price during the period.
Former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles was found guilty of wrongfully making electronic records connected to Mt. Gox’s books, but innocent on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust, in the Tokyo District Court last week. he received a suspended sentence of two and a half years.
Mt. Gox image via CoinDesk archives