Karpeles says he is working hard with technical teams to solve a major security issue, which forced an operational shutdown at the company. Some 744,408 Bitcoins, worth over $350 million, were allegedly lost or stolen, owing to a technical problem.
The security problems have seen angry customers flooding internet forums as well as protesting outside Mt Gox offices, demanding their money back. Some even suggested Karpeles might have fled Japan in the wake of the problems, a claim he denies.
In a statement posted online today, Mt Gox CEO Mark Karpeles writes: “As there is a lot of speculation regarding MtGox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan, and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues.”
In his statement, Karpeles says more information will be released soon: “I would like to kindly ask that people refrain from asking questions to our staff: they have been instructed not to give any response or information. Please visit this page for further announcements and updates.”
According to an apparent Mt Gox crisis document, which has been widely circulated online, the company is considering shutting down trading for an entire month while it rebrands itself as ‘Gox’, brings in new management, and employs a fresh set of technical staff. The document is not officially confirmed, but internet messenger conversations detailed on Fox Business appear to show Karpeles telling industry consultant Jon Fisher that it is “more or less” legitimate.
Mt Gox’s technical issues have been under the spotlight for the last two weeks, after the company blamed the Bitcoin Foundation for the “transaction malleability” issues that opened the currency to fraudulent manipulation. Many social media commenters said Mt Gox was a serious part of the problem after failing to update its own technology.
In an interview with Forbes at the time, Karpeles said that Mt Gox had regularly upgraded its own Bitcoin implementation in order to keep pace with the developments set by the Foundation, but added that the exchange “couldn’t keep up with all the changes”.
Earlier this week, Karpeles resigned from his seat on the board of the Bitcoin Foundation. He has not responded to requests for further comment.