Editor’s Note: Article updated with Mt. Gox creditor’s comments.
In 2014, Mt. Gox, once the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, filed for bankruptcy. At the time, Japanese creditors requested Mt. Gox to return the equivalent amount of their funds stored in bitcoin in Japanese yen. Since then, the price of bitcoin has risen by 70-fold, and former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles is expected to take the majority of the profit from the bankruptcy proceedings.
In July, Karpeles attended a court hearing and pleaded not guilty to charges on money laundering and embezzlement, for his involvement in the loss of approximately one million bitcoins, which were worth $400 million during the period wherein the Mt. Gox bankruptcy was filed.
Over the past three years, from 2014 to 2017, the price of bitcoin has increased exponentially, from around $400 to $7,000, by 17-fold. During the investigation into the Mt. Gox bankruptcy from 2014 to 2016, 200,000 bitcoins were recovered and with that, Karpeles was requested to proceed accrediting creditors of Mt. Gox with the recovered bitcoins.
However, after a strange turn of events, it turns out that creditors of Mt. Gox, or former bitcoin traders on the Mt. Gox exchange, are set to be credited with Japanese yen equivalent to the value of bitcoin in 2014.
Paul Wasensteiner, a Mt. Gox creditor, told CCN that creditors were not made aware that their claims were limited to a maximum value of $480 and that the bankruptcy would settle the proceedings based on the price of bitcoin three years ago. Creditors have expressed their concerns over the process of the Mt. Gox bankruptcy, and the possibility that Karpeles, who is directly responsible for the loss of $7 billion in funds, might take away $859 million from the $1.3 billion that has been recovered.
Consequently, subsequent to the completion of the payout of Mt. Gox bankruptcy proceedings to its creditors, Karpeles will be left with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bitcoin as profit, for his direct involvement in the loss of nearly $7 billion worth of bitcoins within a two-year span.
“When it’s all sorted out, Karpelès would pretty much get [the] vast majority” of the extra value, Kolin Burges told the WSJ, a creditor who held 311 bitcoins at Mt. Gox. “So that seems incredibly unfair.”
For creditors like Burges, their previous funds in bitcoin that were stored on Mt. Gox will be processed in Japanese yen, at the same value it had been in 2014. Hence, instead of receiving more than $2.1 million, Burges will receive less than $130,000 for his 311 bitcoins, at a price of $400.
“[I]n the case these are sold, I do not believe it would realistically fetch any kind of value high enough to make this an actual issue,” said Karpeles, denying any wrongdoing in regards to the Mt. Gox case and the theft of user funds.
On paper, the company of Karpeles, called Tibanne, owns about 88% of Mt. Gox as per the WSJ. After the bankruptcy filings are settled, Mt. Gox will be left with a surplus of $977 million worth of bitcoins. Out of that, 88 percent will be granted to Karpeles and in the end, after losing more than $7 billion of user funds, Karpeles will take home $859 million for his role in the demise of Mt. Gox.
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