British firm is linked to hoard of stolen Bitcoins worth £4.5 billion

Rob Waugh
Contributor
It was the biggest Bitcoin heist in history

It was the biggest Bitcoin heist in history, a 2014, raid on what was then the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange where criminals escaped with 650,000 Bitcoin.

At today’s prices, that would be worth £4.5 billion.

The 2014 raid on Tokyo-based exchange Mt Gox led to the exchange collapsing, leaving tens of thousands of customers with nothing after 650,000 Bitcoins vanished into thin air.

But now investigators are closing in on firms which laundered the funds – via a rival Bitcoin exchange – and a British company is believed to be involved, the BBC reports.

At the time, no one knew where the money vanished, but the FBI now believes coins were laundered through rival exchange BTC-e.

Mark Karpeles of Mt Gox

The company behind the exchange is British – Always Efficient LLP, registered in east London, in an office where several firms linked to money laundering are registered.

Duncan Hames of Transparency International told the BBC, ‘People laundering money will set up a network of companies to create layers between the original crime and their attempts to then integrate the proceeds of their crime into the economy.

MOST POPULAR TODAY ON YAHOO

‘They simply enable a series of transactions to take place to create this distance and to obscure the trail of the proceeds of crime.’

The FBI has charged one Russian man with money laundering in the wake of the attack.
At one point, 70% of all Bitcoin transactions went through Mt Gox.

In 2014, Mt Gox issued a statement saying, ‘At the start of February 2014, illegal access through the abuse of a bug in the bitcoin system resulted in an increase in incomplete bitcoin transfer transactions and we discovered that there was a possibility that bitcoins had been illicitly moved through the abuse of this bug.

‘We believe that there is a high probability that these bitcoins were stolen as a result of an abuse of this bug and we have asked an expert to look at the possibility of a criminal complaint and undertake proper procedures.’