In a report published today by the Wall Street Journal‘s MoneyBeat blog, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said it was launching a formal investigation into the loss of nearly 850,000 bitcoins from the long-shuttered Mt.Gox exchange. Given the size of the heist, and the extraordinary level of coverage the collapse of Mt.Gox has seen both in Japan and internationally, the most curious thing about the announcement may be that the investigation is being launched six months after the exchange declared bankruptcy. Mt.Gox has long claimed that the funds were lost due to hacking, although more recent claims by Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles have suggested that “physical attacks” and theft were also to blame.
According to the WSJ report, a spokesman for the Tokyo police department said that documents submitted by Mt.Gox in March indicate that at least 27,000 bitcoins were removed illegally from the exchange via hacking, but that the department had only recently concluded that a criminal investigation was merited.
The investigation has already had one side effect, extending the deadline for a final report on the matter from Mt.Gox’s court-appointed bankruptcy trustee from May 2015 until November. This could result in even further delays for Mt.Gox creditors, adding another six months to an already torturously long settlement process.