The complex and glacially slow international bankruptcy process for shuttered bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox made significant progress yesterday when Judge Stacey Jernigan have final approval to the company’s Chapter 15 filing. The decision will allow Nobuaki Kobayashi, the court-appointed trustee in the Japanese case, to move forward with his investigation, as well as consider potential bids to liquidate Mt.Gox’s assets or revive the company.
The move also frees assets such as U.S.-held servers to be examined by Japanese authorities. With 650,000 bitcoins still unaccounted for, those servers, records and other hardware might shed some light on where the coins went. The records might even provide enough evidence to launch a criminal investigation.
The case, which is now in its fourth month, is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. Although a collective of interested parties known as Sunlot Holdings has made an offer to resurrect the Tokyo-based exchange and settle at least some of the outstanding debts to Mt.Gox’s thousands of creditors, there are several procedural hurdles to overcome before any bid can be seriously considered. There are also rumored counter offers by OKCoin and CoinLab.
Thus far, Kobayashi has maintained that he cannot consider any proposal until other legal issues are resolved. Yesterday’s ruling may have advanced that process by a few steps, but it may be several more months before the case is ready to move forward in Japan.