Bitcoin Exchange Halts Trading Amid US$365 Million Theft Claim

Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox Bitcoin, halted trading Tuesday without any explanation, sparking concerns about the future of the unregulated virtual currency.


Even the company's website is now completely offline. A statement on the site said that "a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly."


Bitcoin has gained increasing acceptance as a method of payment and has attracted a number of large venture capital investors. The digital currency has caught the eye of regulators concerned with consumer protections and bitcoin's use in money laundering.


Mt. Gox Bitcoin stopped trading following the leak of what could be an internal document revealing long-term theft of about $365 million in the digital currency. The document, posted online by blogger Ryan Galt, revealed 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 also said that the theft “went unnoticed for several years.”


Meanwhile, authorities in both the U.S. and Japan have started looking into the sudden closure of Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, reports said Wednesday, while bitcoin prices recovered from lows the previous day.

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