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Mt. Gox faced questions on handling client cash long before crisis

Published on Mar 30, 2014 12:46 PM
 
Two years before Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy, a half dozen employees at the Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange challenged CEO Mark Karpeles (above) over whether client money was being used to cover costs, according to three people who participated in the discussion. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Two years before Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy, a half dozen employees at the Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange challenged CEO Mark Karpeles over whether client money was being used to cover costs, according to three people who participated in the discussion.

The question of how Mt. Gox handled other people's money - the issue raised by staff in the showdown with Karpeles in early 2012 - remains crucial to unravelling a multi-million dollar mystery under examination by authorities in Japan.

A bankruptcy administrator and police are seeking to determine how a Tokyo start-up that shot from obscurity to dominate global trade in bitcoin managed to lose more than US$27 million (S$34 million) in old-fashioned cash held in a bank as well as bitcoins worth close to US$450 million at today's prices.

The still-unresolved issue has thrown a spotlight on how Mt. Gox functioned as a hybrid between an online brokerage and an exchange. Essentially, the more than 1 million traders who used Mt. Gox at its peak had entrusted a 3-year-old firm to hold their money safely until they decided to cash out.

 
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