Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy, claims it lost $473 million

The saga of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange went to a new level today as the Japanese-based company announced it's filing for bankruptcy protection. The news comes a few days after the Mt. Gox website shut down operations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in its filing today, Mt. Gox claims it has "lost" 750,000 Bitcoins from its customers, along with 100,000 of its own. Together, that means $473 million worth of Bitcoins, under their current exchange pricing, is now missing.

In a press conference in Japan, Mt. Gox owner and CEO Mark Karpelès put the blame on technical issues in the website that allowed unknown people or groups to make false withdrawals from the exchange. He said, "There was some weakness in the system, and the bitcoins have disappeared. I apologize for causing trouble."

It's likely that the owners of the Bitcoins that were put into Mt. Gox will never see them again. Many of them are questioning just how their money was lost. The story quotes Australian William Banks, who had 100 Bitcoins in the exchange, saying he felt it was "impossible" for Mt. Gox to just have that much of the currency disappear, adding, "It's just such an astronomical amount of coins to lose."

Mt. Gox, which launched in 2009 as a website for trading Magic: The Gathering cards, switched to Bitcoin trading later on and quickly became the largest exchange for the online-only currency. It's downfall has raised new and serious questions about the legitimacy of Bitcoin as a whole.

Source: WSJ | Image via Mt. Gox

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