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Bitcoin bourse disappears in blow to virtual currency

Mt Gox officials did not answer the telephone or respond to email requests for information.

Tokyo |
February 26, 2014 1:27:08 am

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 — from rival exchanges to burned investors — 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 organisation 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 7,44,000 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. Tokyo investors in the frontier electronic currency, who have endured a volatile ride in the value of the unregulated cyber-tender, said the problem was with Mt Gox, not with the revolutionary Bitcoin itself.

Mt Gox officials did not answer the telephone or respond to email requests for information. The concierge at the home of the chief executive said he was not answering his intercom. His mailbox was so stuffed with mail that the flap would not close.

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