Fortress Investment Group, an asset management, and investment firm based out of New York, will shell out pennies for the claims of creditors in the unfortunate saga of the now-defunct crypto exchange Mt. Gox. Yesterday, industry news platformCoinDesk published a report which confirmed the acquisition, adding that the intent to purchase the claims were made known by Fortress Managing Director Michael Hourigan.
Mt. Gox, the cryptocurrency exchange based in Japan, was one of the most popular crypto exchanges in the world at some point. However, its popularity reached even greater heights- albeit for the wrong reasons- in 2014, when it suffered a hack that saw it lose up to 850,000 Bitcoins, worth about $473 million at the time.
The hack was the most high-profile exchange-related security breach at the time, and it brought even more concerns over the safety of investors’ funds. The entire case was so severe that it sent bitcoin trading about 36 percent lower over the month when it was reported.
The exchange eventually filed for bankruptcy protection both in its home country of Japan and in the United States, and it’s pretty much had to live in infamy while its name has consistently been linked with everything wrong with the security infrastructure of asset custodians like exchanges and Bitcoin wallets to this day.
However, nothing ever stays buried for long, and this report of a prospective buyback is definitely something to examine. Per the CoinDesk report, Hourigan has informed the Mt. Gox creditors about his plans to buy the claims, and the company has reportedly offered to purchase them for about double the exchange’s bankruptcy value.
As at the time that Mt. Gox officially went under, the claims were said to be worth about $451 per token. However, Hourigan and Fortress claim that they’re ready to offer up to $900 a coin. The letter also details that Fortress could make the purchase in fiat currency or Bitcoin, and creditors have until July 31 to decide on a sale.
Fortress has actually been quite active with cryptocurrencies. It was acquired by Japanese multinational conglomerate SoftBank in late 2017, with the latter itself being an avid player in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries. Also, the company’s former CIO, Michael Novogratz, went on to found crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital.
As for Mt. Gox, both the exchange and its founders have continued to face scrutiny over how they handled the exchange- both before and after the 2014 hack.
Jed McCaleb, the exchange’s co-founder, is currently facing a lawsuit over how he handled the exchange. McCaleb is being sued by Joseph Jones and Peter Steinmetz, both of whom were once traders on the platform.
According to their filing, both men claimed that McCaleb made misrepresentations of the platform in a bid to induce traders and entice them to the platform. They also alleged that he knew about the exchange’s security infrastructure flaws as far back as 2010, but he deliberately failed to perform due diligence or disclose any of the flaws to the exchange’s investors and members of the public.
Given how much trouble they are in, the operators of Mt. Gox will be more than happy for a different firm to handle the investor claims that have trailed the exchange since its hack. More than anyone else, this news is music to their ears.