|Tokyo checks on Mt Gox bitcoin mess
Japanese authorities are investigating the troubled Mt Gox bitcoin exchange after claims of a multi-million dollar theft from its digital vaults. US prosecutors have also reportedly served a subpoena on the company.
The moves came the day after the website of Tokyo-based Mt Gox disappeared, AFP reports.
“I understand that ministries and agencies concerned – financial services, police and the finance ministry – are looking into the matter to learn the full scope of the issue,'' Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, told reporters.
“Once we have full knowledge of what happened, we will take action if necessary,'' he said.
The comments, at a regular press conference, were the first government reaction to events at Mt Gox, which froze withdrawals earlier this month, claiming there was a bug in the software that underpins bitcoin, making it vulnerable to thieves.
The value of the volatile unit plunged on the Tokyo exchange and hovered around US$130 yesterday, around a quarter of what it was fetching on other platforms, until the site suddenly disappeared at lunch time.
Hours later, MtGox published a statement saying it had stopped all transactions “for the time being in order to protect the site and our users.’’
A widely-shared document purporting to be a MtGox “crisis strategy'' said the firm might have lost more than 744,400 bitcoins in a theft that had gone unnoticed for years.
That number of bitcoins would be worth more than US$400 million, using rates at functioning exchanges today, where the bitcoin was trading at US$570.
The Wall Street Journal reported on its website that Mt Gox has been served with a subpoena by US federal prosecutors in New York.
The paper said the document was sent this month and demanded that Mt Gox preserve certain documents.