Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox disappears in blow to virtual currency
Mt. Gox, once the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, looked to have essentially disappeared on Tuesday, with its website down, its founder unaccounted for and a Tokyo office empty bar a handful of protesters saying they had lost money investing in the virtual currency.
The digital marketplace operator, which began as a venue for trading cards, had surged to the top of the bitcoin world, but critics said Mt. Gox had long been lax over its security.
It was not clear what has become of the exchange, which this month halted withdrawals indefinitely after detecting “unusual activity.” A global bitcoin organization referred to the exchange’s “exit,” while angry investors questioned whether it was still solvent.
A document circulating on the internet, and purporting to be a crisis plan for the exchange, said more than 744,000 bitcoins were “missing due to malleability-related theft”, and noted Mt. Gox had $174 million in liabilities against $32.75 million in assets. It was not possible to verify the document or the exchange’s financial situation.