(Fixes spelling error in paragraph 8)
By Sophie Knight
TOKYO, March 21 Mt. Gox said on Friday it found
200,000 "forgotten" bitcoins on March 7, a week after the
Tokyo-based digital currency exchange filed for bankruptcy
protection, saying it lost nearly all the 850,000 bitcoins it
held, worth some $500 million at today's prices.
Mt. Gox made the announcement on its website. Online sleuths
had noticed around 200,000 bitcoins moving through the
crypto-currency exchange after the bankruptcy filing.
The exchange, headed by 28-year-old Frenchman Mark Karpeles,
said the bitcoins were found in an old-format online wallet
which it had thought no longer held any bitcoins, but which it
checked again after its bankruptcy filing.
"On March 7, 2014, MtGox Co., Ltd. confirmed that an old
format wallet which was used prior to June 2011 held a balance
of approximately 200,000 BTC," the statement said.
It added that it moved the 200,000 bitcoins from online to
offline wallets on March 14-15 "for security reasons." "These
bitcoin movements, including the change in the manner in which
these coins were stored, had been reported to the court and the
supervisor by counsels," it noted.
Many of Mt. Gox's 127,000 creditors, who feared they had
lost their investments when the exchange filed for bankruptcy,
are skeptical about what the exchange has said happened to the
bitcoins it had. In its bankruptcy filing, Mt. Gox also said $28
million was "missing" from its Japanese bank accounts.
On Thursday, a U.S. judge in Chicago overseeing a class
action against Mt. Gox revised a previous order, allowing some
of the exchange's bitcoin movements to be tracked.
"Today in court we got relief ... specifically to track the
180,000 bitcoins, which we've been monitoring. Hours later, Mt.
Gox claimed it "found" these bitcoins ... it appears Mt. Gox
realized we were close and decided to acknowledge that it owned
these 180,000-200,000 bitcoins," Steven L. Woodrow, a partner at
law firm Edelson, told Reuters in emailed comments.
Edelson is representing Illinois resident Gregory Greene,
who proposed the class action over what he claims is a massive
fraud. Mt. Gox blamed the loss of 750,000 bitcoins belonging to
its customers and 100,000 of its own on hackers who attacked its
Bitcoin is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network
independent of central control. Its value soared last year, and
the total worth of bitcoins is now about $7 billion.
(Additional reporting by Tom Hals in DELAWARE; Editing by Ian
Geoghegan and Miral Fahmy)