The liquidators of a New Zealand bitcoin trading platform will soon be able to make a claim for $23 million worth of the digital currency that was being held with a now-bankrupt Japanese exchange.
New Zealand limited partnership Bitcoinica owned and managed a digital currency trading platform but shut down in 2012 after bitcoin and fiat currency were stolen from it.
After being appointed, liquidators Anthony McCullagh and Stephen Lawrence from PKF believed the partnership had 64,532 bitcoin and US$135,000 in the now defunct Mt Gox. Following lengthy wrangling, the liquidators had just obtained access to two of the accounts holding these bitcoin the month before Japan-based Mt Gox stopped trading last February.
Mt Gox was once the world's largest bitcoin exchange but collapsed into bankruptcy last year after the apparent theft of more than 700,000 bitcoin, worth more than $500 million at the time.
Based on Mt Gox's accounts, the liquidators believe the 64,000 bitcoin holding means the partnership makes up around 8.5 per cent of the creditor claims in the exchange's bankruptcy.
In their latest report, filed with the Companies Register this month, the liquidators said the Mt Gox trustee recently advised the system for filing creditor claims would be set up this April and run until the end of May.
PKF's Chris McCullagh told the Herald yesterday that it would be claiming for the full 64,000 bitcoin, which based on yesterday's prices are worth about $23 million.
"Whether those claims are accepted is a different story," McCullagh said.
The liquidators believe that, if their claim is accepted, any payout from Mt Gox would not come until at least October this year.
"It is unknown at this stage what assets will be available for distribution to Bitcoinica, and in what form the distribution will be made [ie fiat currency and/or bitcoins]," they said.
About 200 creditors have made claims with Bitcoinica and McCullagh said he was not aware of any who were from New Zealand. These creditors are claiming 91,339 bitcoin, US$248,000 in cash and US$276,000 in leveraged trading positions.
The liquidators have not accepted or rejected these claims and say they will assess them if they are successful in securing the bitcoin and funds held by Mt Gox.
"It is likely that we will also need to seek directions from the High Court of New Zealand on the method of distribution of the assets," the liquidators said.
• Bitcoin is virtual currency traded between and stored in digital wallets.
• It is not tied to any bank, or controlled by a government or central authority.
• Users, called "miners", solve complex mathematical problems to protect the integrity of the system and, in turn, gain more currency.
• One bitcoin was yesterday selling for close to US$260 ($350).