On Monday Mt. Gox filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in the United States to protect itself from a class action lawsuit that was recently filed in Chicago as well as a year-old case involving CoinLab Inc., which sued Mt. Gox for breaching a contract.
A Chapter 15 bankruptcy only allows a business to protect its U.S. assets by recognizing a foreign bankruptcy. Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy in Japan, where the Bitcoin exchange was based, on Feb. 28, after saying that hackers had stolen 750,000 customer bitcoins from its accounts.
When the exchange shut down, customers lost any money they still had in their Mt. Gox accounts.
The attorney for the class action suit, Steven Woodrow, had harsh words in the Dallas courtroom.
"This case involves a massive fraud," Woodrow told Judge Harlin Hale. "They claim incredibly that they will preserve assets and protect assets by entrusting the servers and other property to [Mt. Gox CEO Mark] Karpeles. Respectfully, your honor, that is the definition of the fox guarding the henhouse."
Meanwhile, a U.S. federal judge in Chicago temporarily froze Karpeles' U.S. assets on Tuesday. The freeze also applies to Mt. Gox's U.S. affiliate as well as the parent Japanese company, Tibanne.
Victims involved in the class action suit said they believe Karpeles still possesses millions of dollars' worth of bitcoins.
Despite the flurry of legal action, it remains very unlikely that any of the Mt. Gox victims will ever get even a portion of their money back.
Other Bitcoin news this week focused on regulation…
The Latest Bitcoin News – Regulators Still Finding Their Way
Regulators spent another week contradicting each other, raising concern they will find it hard to agree on the actual creation of Bitcoin regulations.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a brokerage regulator, issued an "investor alert" on Bitcoin on Tuesday, pointing to the Mt. Gox bankruptcy as an example of the risk of owning the digital currency.
"Speculators drawn to Bitcoin trading should understand that Bitcoin prices have fluctuated widely, and wildly," said Gerri Walsh, FINRA's vice president for investor education. "Investors looking to get in on the ground floor of a Bitcoin-related company should realize that fraudsters may see the latest digital currency trend as a chance to steal their money."
While it's true that investing in Bitcoin is risky, it's hardly the only investment in which you can lose all your money. Stocks can be very risky as well, even supposedly "safe" blue chips. Just ask all the folks who owned General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) stock in 2009.
Not all regulators view Bitcoin so negatively, however.
About the Author
Dave has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.