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Protesters Gather Outside Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox's Former Office

posted 25 Feb 2014, 04:05 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 25 Feb 2014, 04:07 ]

Protesters gather outside Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox's former office after they are unable to access the exchange's website.

TOKYO, JAPAN (FEBRUARY 25, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Protesters gathered outside of the former office of troubled bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox on Tuesday (February 25) after they were unable to access their funds.

The company's website appeared to be taken down, shortly after six major bitcoin exchanges released a joint statement distancing themselves from the troubled Tokyo-based exchange.

Bitcoin exchanges allow their users to trade bitcoins for U.S. dollars and other currencies.

Mt. Gox, the best-known digital marketplace operator, had once been the largest exchange handling bitcoins.

Kolin Burges flew in from London after he found he was unable to access his funds and has been staking out the former offices of Mt. Gox for about a week looking for answers.

Management staff for the building said Mt. Gox moved their office to a new, unspecified location last week.

"I had 311 bitcoins in there, which at the time before this started was worth around 300 thousand dollars. So it looks like that has disappeared," Burges said.

"I came because a lot of my money was tied up here and I wasn't getting any answers in the UK and they were not going to answer me, my concerns - they weren't answering anybody. So I thought the only thing to do would be to come out here and try to talk to the CEO personally," he added.

Footage shot by protesters showed former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles entering the building on February 19. They said he has not been seen since.

"Mark, can you talk to us for a minute? I promise to be polite," one unidentified protester was heard saying in the footage.

Kapeles declined to answer.

Earlier in February, Mt. Gox said it was halting withdrawals indefinitely after it detected "unusual activity."

On Sunday (February 23) Karpeles resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, a trade group promoting the adoption of the digital currency.

The resignation followed a number of technical issues, including a massive cyber attack from unknown sources that has been spamming bitcoin exchange.

Karpeles's apartment home mailbox on the ground floor of a gleaming high-rise apartment building was choked full of mail.

Interviewed by Reuters last April, Kapeles said bitcoins were a high-risk investment.

"Bitcoin would quite qualify as a high risk investment. If you buy bitcoins you should buy with keeping in mind that the value could be zero the day after. For now even if it shouldn't happen, there's still a chance it could happen. There's no guarantee, there's no, nothing behind bitcoin trying to keep the market value high. While there are more and more people buying bitcoins, for now it's still a high risk investment," said Karpeles in his office last year.

Bitcoin prices have been falling fast after Mt. Gox said a "bug in the bitcoin software" could allow transaction details to be altered.

It is a decentralized digital system of value transfers that is not governed by any central bank, company or government.

No assets back the bitcoin, whose value has fluctuated widely as its visibility has increased. Last September, one bitcoin was worth around $150. By late December the value was near the $1,000 mark.

Mt. Gox bitcoins had traded at about $232 in Monday (February 24) trade in Tokyo.


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