At a hearing in federal court yesterday, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman gave Sunlot Holdings and a collection of Mt.Gox creditors preliminary approval to move forward with a settlement plan for the defunct Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange. Under the agreement, Sunlot and its partners would acquire Mt.Gox’s debits and assets for a single bitcoin. The move would also settle the class-action lawsuit against the company, Mt.Gox second-in-command Gonzague Gay-Bouchery and founder Jed McCaleb.
The Sunlot plan is extremely controversial within the bitcoin community, and many have voiced concerns that Mt.Gox’s 127,000 creditors are unlikely to see their accounts fairly settled. According to the settlement plan, Mt.Gox’s remaining assets, including roughly 200,000 BTC, would be distributed proportionately to creditors. Creditors would also receive minority shares in Sunlot Holdings, entitling them to a portion of profits should the company sell the Mt.Gox brand or offer it publicly following rehabilitation.
That said, the plan is not binding. As a Tokyo-based company, Mt.Gox’s bankruptcy is being handled under Japanese law. Currently, all Mt.Gox assets are controlled by court-appointed trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi. Yesterday’s ruling does allow Sunlot to present their deal to Mr. Kobayashi, and to move negotiations forward with some confidence that the outstanding U.S. case will be resolved. Although based in Japan, the exchange had few Japanese users, and most of Mt.Gox’s customers are believed to be based in the U.S. Settling the U.S. case would resolve most of the company’s outstanding debts.
Should the settlement move forward, Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles may still face a variety of civil suits. There has yet to be any indication that criminal proceedings are likely for anyone involved in Mt.Gox.