The story of the Mt. Gox hack continues to unfold as investigations unearth new mysterious actors in the scandal, including a company located in London.
A BBC Radio 4 investigation has revealed that an entity called Always Efficient LLP is the parent company of BTC-e — an exchange that provided the medium through which the money stolen from Mt. Gox in 2014 was laundered. Mt. Gox was robbed of 650,000 Bitcoins, which were then worth about a couple of hundred million dollars. Today, that value has blown up to $6.5 billion.
According to Duncan Hames, director of policy at anti-corruption organization Transparency International, Always Efficient is likely a shell company.
“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. They simply enable a series of transactions to take place to create this distance and to obscure the trail of the proceeds of crime,” he said.
Always Efficient is registered in east London at an address shared by a few other companies, some of them also suspected of involvement in money laundering.
In June 2016, the UK government enacted regulations requiring of shell companies to publish a list of “persons with significant control” (PWSC).
Always Efficient currently doesn’t comply with this regulation, but the last time it listed a PWSC, it turned out to be a DJ in Moscow.
Alexander Vinnik, the man behind BTC-e’s laundering operation, is still the subject of an extradition battle between the US and Russia. He denies having any association with the shell company.
It’s probably also important to note that Mt. Gox is not an innocent party in the entire scandal either.
Bitcoin’s rise in value towards the end of 2013 had much to do with the market manipulation that the exchange initiated through falsified transactions on dummy accounts.
This may ultimately have led hackers to see profit in stealing the cryptocurrency reserves from the exchange.