| PARIS, March 4
PARIS, March 4 More than 400 people have
signalled they would join a class action against Mt. Gox, the
world's biggest marketplace for the digital currency bitcoin
before its abrupt collapse, British-based law firm Selachii
It would be the latest effort to try to recoup some of the
$480 million in losses that Mt. Gox has blamed on a hacking
attack that drove it into bankruptcy. The exchange is already
being sued by a U.S. customer for alleged negligence and fraud.
Selachii has received over 400 expressions of interest in
joining a class action, according to the law firm's co-founder
Richard Howlett. After ending submissions on Friday the firm
will tally the list of claimants and file a suit in London
against the parent company of Mt. Gox, K K Tibanne, and Mt. Gox
chief Mark Karpeles, he said.
"There are already over 400 people who are joining in ...
From every country you can think of," Howlett said.
Neither Karpeles nor his lawyer were available to comment.
Class actions, also known as representative actions, are
rare under English law. The court at first instance considered
only two cases reported since the introduction of new rules in
2000, Thomson Reuters-owned legal publisher Practical Law said
on its website.
Although Selachii's Howlett said it was still impossible to
say what had really caused the collapse, he said the suit would
focus on customer complaints about a lack of disclosure by the
exchange and customer deposits made in the immediate run-up to
"On the back of the Mt. Gox collapse a lot of people say
they feel the truth is not being stated," Howlett said.
If Selachii does file the suit, it will be the firm's first
class action. The benefits for claimants are that legal fees
will be spread across a big number of people, Howlett said.
At a news conference on Friday at the Tokyo District Court,
Karpeles said he was very sorry and blamed Mt. Gox's collapse
on a "weakness in our system," but predicted that the bitcoin
market would continue to grow.
Bitcoin, unlike conventional money, is bought and sold on a
peer-to-peer network independent of central control. Its value
has soared in the last year, and the total worth of bitcoins
created is now about $7 billion.
Mt. Gox said it may have lost 750,000 of its customers'
bitcoins and 100,000 of its own, equal to about 7 percent of
bitcoins worldwide, for a total loss of about $480 million.
The exchange reported having 127,000 creditors, liabilities
of 6.5 billion yen ($64 million) and assets of 3.84 billion yen
Global regulators are also delving into the risks of
bitcoin. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has sent
subpoenas to Mt. Gox and other exchanges to seek information on
how they handled recent cyber attacks, a source familiar with
the probe told Reuters last week.
"There are lots of unanswered questions," said Selachii's
Howlett. "Some people have had their life savings disappear."