Tech by VICE

Japanese Mt. Gox Customers are SOL on Getting their Bitcoins Back

A Japanese court claims bitcoins are not subject to ownership and thus can’t be returned.

by John Wenz
Aug 7 2015, 3:49pm

Photo: Getty Images

A Mt. Gox customer ran into a dead-end in Tokyo District Court, with a judge deciding that due to their intangible nature and reliance on third parties, the unnamed plaintiff could not demand repayment of 458 bitcoins he stored with the company.

Mt. Gox was a popular Bitcoin exchange until it shuddered suddenly, leaving customers out a total of $473 million USD worth of Bitcoin. Currently, the remaining assets of Mt. Gox are estimated at around $11.5 million, which is being divided up amongst its customers. Most claimants against Mt. Gox have been told to expect "only a fraction" of their investment back, according to Coindesk.

Given the international scope of the Bitcoin exchange, other lawsuits may have different outcomes internationally. But for Japanese customers, this is a huge setback, and reflects a potential way cryptocurrency may be handled in the Japanese legal system.

Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles was arrested this week on charges that he embezzled funds from the exchange. "We learned that Mark only had one bank account, shared with Mt Gox's customer deposits," Ashley Barr, a former Mt. Gox employee, told Reddit. "That was the nail in the coffin."