Despite the absence of government regulation on virtual currency anywhere, the horrors of MtGox have forced the hand of officials in both Japan and the U.S. to take some sort of action.
As reported by Wall Street Journal, authorities are now starting to take more of an interest in the case after initially turning a cold shoulder to it.
Previously, a Financial Services Agency (FSA) representative had said that bitcoin exchanges “aren’t subject to our regulatory oversight.” Despite playing host to what once had been the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, Japan had remained mum, and seemingly indifferent, toward virtual currencies, choosing not to support them nor interfere with them.
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This changed Wednesday when Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said, “The government will take measures if necessary once we have an assessment of the situation.” In addition, Bank of Japan policy board member Koji Ishida commented on the potential regulation of Bitcoin, saying, “I think the Japanese government will make a proper assessment.” Interestingly, when contacted again on Wednesday, officials insisted that their stance had not changed on the issue.
Meanwhile, WSJ also reports that federal prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed MtGox to preserve “documents among other things”, citing a person familiar with the matter.
The subpoena was sent this month, although its unclear exactly when. Also unclear is the impetus for its being sent and whether it relates directly to MtGox’s collapse, the events leading up to the collapse, or other issues. It can be speculated that it’s for investigations related to Silk Road and Bitinstant, which may have caused limitations when making withdrawals to certain customers. Gonzague Gay-Bouchery, MtGox Manager of Business Development, was quoted as saying to a customer encountered at MtGox headquarters that “There are also some ongoing investigations, which we cannot talk about.”
Therefore, it could very well be that officials, at least in the U.S. aren’t quite yet taking up the plight of Bitcoin customers, instead continuing to exercise their vigilance over money laundering and other criminal activity.