Mt. Gox Bitcoin Exchange Files for Bankruptcy Protection in Japan

The Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange filed for bankruptcy protection this morning in Japan.

The once popular but recently embattled bitcoin exchange says it lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the digital currency in what they are saying is a theft but what some critics are suggesting may have been an inside job.

Quoth AFP:

The company’s lawyer said 750,000 Bitcoins belonging to customers had gone, along with MtGox’s own store of the currency, which she said was around 100,000 units. That number of Bitcoins would be worth around $477 million dollars. The global Bitcoin community was shaken this week by the shuttering of MtGox, which had frozen withdrawals earlier this month because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

“We have lost Bitcoins due to weaknesses in the system,” France-born Mark Karpeles, who founded the exchange, said in Japanese at a press conference. “We are really sorry for causing trouble to all the people concerned.”

Owners of the stolen bitcoins, which are unregulated and not considered legal tender, are unlikely to get their money back.