A closed-door meeting of Mt.Gox customers and other creditors held today in Tokyo provided little solace to those who lost their funds on the shuttered bitcoin exchange. The meeting provided those burned by the exchange their first face-to-face interaction with Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles, who gave a brief apology for the situation but otherwise left the interactions to the company’s court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, Nobuaki Kobayashi. Approximately 100 creditors were on hand for the meeting, which was conducted entirely in Japanese.
Attendees were not allowed to record the meeting, although firsthand accounts paint a picture of a tense, less-than-pleasant discussion of the bankruptcy process to come. Kobayashi spent roughly half an hour giving a general outline of the case, and then opened the floor to a question-and-answer period that lasted roughly 90 minutes. An English-language summary of Kobayashi’s presentation was made available after the meeting.
According to the Wall Street Journal, most creditor questions went unanswered, with Kobayashi regularly stating that these matters were under investigation. No additional details about how Mt.Gox lost user funds, where those funds ultimately ended up, or how long the company knew about the problems before halting trading were given.
There was one small bright spot in the meeting, however. While discussing how the remaining funds would eventually be dispersed to creditors, Kobayashi suggested that it might be possible to return the remaining balances in BTC rather than dollars. As the WSJ reports:
“The court-appointed trustee asked how many of us want to have the bitcoin returned as bitcoin, and about 70% of us raised our hands and gave a round of applause,” said Yoshimitsu Homma, a Mt. Gox creditor. “He said the option would be considered, though he added it wouldn’t be easy due to legal requirements.”
Kobayashi also said that he would soon be meeting with the various groups who have proposed plans to buy, liquidate or revive Mt.Gox. There is currently no credible timeline for when the case will be fully resolved, although many analysts expect that the slow nature of Japanese bankruptcy processes and the lack of precedent for digital currency cases will case the process to drag on well into 2015.