The biggest theft in history just took another strange turn as a blockchain analysis company, Chainalysis, apparently backtracks on a claim they made during a congressional testimony which suggested they had found the missing MT Gox bitcoins currently worth more than $2 billion.
During the hearing, a senator asked: considering stated abilities, we should be able to find the MT Gox coins, why haven’t we? In reply, Jonathan Levin, co-founder of Chainalysis, stated:
“We actually did find those. Chainalysis was the official investigators in the MT Gox bankruptcy case and the destination of those coins is definitely known.”
That statement appears unequivocal, leaving little interpretation than a claim the MT Gox coins have been found. A claim many find surprising as no one was able to find them at the time despite much exploration.
So we reached out to Levin, asking a number of questions designed to not interfere with any potential investigation but to gain a better understanding of what exactly is being claimed. Levin’s response was short:
“I did not claim to know where the money is today only where it went.”
We asked for further clarification. Specifically we asked whether Chainalysis figured out to what address the bitcoins were initially withdrawn, but then lost track of them or whether they mean something else.
We further enquired whether the interpretation by some that Chainalysis had found the MT Gox coins was a correct interpretation of Levin’s statement.
In reply Levin stated: “I cannot make any further comment.”
The Mysterious Case of MT Gox
The MT Gox debacle nears its fourth year, with the company now becoming solvent as the 200,000 bitcoins found by ordinary bitcoiners around March 2014 are currently valued more than half a billion, around the same sum as the total value of 950,000 bitcoin holdings MT Gox was supposed to have at the time.
Those coins have still not been released. Language barriers – the trustee is Japanese based in Japan – and geography have led to little, if any communication, with no one really knowing what exactly is going on as the trustee is difficult to reach, even for the media.
The case is further complicated by a number of other lawsuits in a Dickensian mess that threatens to lock up the coins for many more years, despite MT Gox now actually being solvent, which should mean the company can start operating again under new management with other matters addresses at the same time.
But, we’re dealing with bureaucracy, not common sense, so most MT Gox creditors have completely forgotten about it, considering the coins as good as lost and just a bonus once received – if any is left at the end of the Dickensian mess.
However, MT Gox retains relevance because just what exactly happened remains a mystery. Even more so because of a number of peculiar claims, including the latest one by Chainalysis.
Silk Road’s founder, for example, told the court during the trial that it was Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of MT Gox, who originally created Silk Road.
Then, one of the FBI officers, who was investigating Silk Road and assisted in their shut-down, was arrested and pleaded guilty to charges of appropriation of funds, among other things, with one of the reasons they were caught being some MT Gox deposits and transfers.
The rogue officers threaten exchange operators, telling them the funds are criminal proceeds, should be seized, and given to the rogue officers, with exchanges finding no option but to comply. Was one of the exchanges MT Gox, many wondered.
Finally, after being held in custody for many months, Karpeles, MT Gox’s former CEO, was released. He is awaiting trial, but why it should take so many months for such trial to begin is not clear with many finding his release as very surprising.
The MT Gox story therefore has the writings of a great Hollywood script that would probably top the charts as soon as released, but that story has not yet ended, with no one sure how it may twist and turn as peculiarity is written all over it.