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May 24, 2019

New Zealand crypto firm hacked to death, seeks U.S. bankruptcy

Rob Lauzon discusses bitcoin

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Cryptopia Limited, a New Zealand company that operated a cryptocurrency exchange with over 300,000 accounts from around the world, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection after hackers broke in earlier this year and stole over US$16 million.

The company’s founders started Cryptopia as a hobby in 2014, and the exchange grew rapidly in 2017 as the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed, according to federal court papers filed Friday in Manhattan. But hackers broke into digital wallets stored with Cryptopia in January 2019 and stole client assets.

After Cryptopia re-opened its trading platform in March so account holders could exchange their assets for Bitcoin, Litecoin or Dogecoin, shareholders decided to fold the company, according to a declaration filed by the New Zealand liquidator.

Cryptopia still has tens of millions of dollars of digital assets that the liquidators are trying to collect and distribute to account holders, the filing shows. The liquidators are trying to determine which account holders own which digital assets, but the information they need is hosted on servers run by an Arizona company that’s terminating its agreement with Cryptopia and demanding about US$2 million, the declaration states.

The liquidators are concerned that if they don’t pay the Arizona company, Cryptopia’s data could be overwritten or lost. “This would be potentially catastrophic for the liquidators and account holders,” according to the liquidator. As for the hacked wallets, “recovery efforts are still being made, but to date, none of the stolen digital assets have been recovered.”

Every Cryptopia account holder is a potential creditor in the liquidation, and trade creditors are owed about US$2.6 million, the documents show.

The Chapter 15 case is Cryptopia Limited, 19-11688-smb, U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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