Hacked Japan crypto exchange refunds customers

2018-03-13 14:38
A huge advertisement of Bitcoin is displayed near Shibuya train station in Tokyo. (Shizuo Kambayashi, AP)

A huge advertisement of Bitcoin is displayed near Shibuya train station in Tokyo. (Shizuo Kambayashi, AP)

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Tokyo - Japan-based virtual currency exchange Coincheck said on Tuesday it had refunded more than $440m to customers following the hack of its systems, which was one of the largest thefts of its kind.

The company said it used its own funds to reimburse about ¥46.6bn to all 260 000 customers who lost their holdings of NEM, a leading crypto-currency.

"Procedures have been completed with the accounts of all 260 000 customers," said company spokesperson Yosuke Imai.

Thieves syphoned away 523 million units of the crypto-currency from Coincheck - then valued at $547m - during the January 26 hack, which exceeded the $480m in Bitcoin stolen in 2014 from another Japanese exchange, MtGox.

READ: Coincheck to repay users who lost money in $400m hack

The 2014 hack prompted Japan to issue new regulations, requiring exchanges to obtain a government licence, but Coincheck was allowed to continue operating while the Financial Services Agency was reviewing its application.

Authorities raided Coincheck's office in February and have slapped the company with sanctions.

Coincheck chief operating officer Yusuke Otsuka said last week that the company's system was breached after several staff members opened emails containing malware.

The firm had failed to upgrade its systems to keep up with the rapid expansion of the crypto-currency market, he said.

In February, seven plaintiffs - two companies and five individuals - filed a lawsuit against Coincheck seeking the reimbursement of ¥19.53m in lost virtual currency and further compensation for interest lost due to the hack.

As many as 10 000 businesses in Japan are thought to accept Bitcoin, and bitFlyer - the country's main Bitcoin exchange - saw its user base grow beyond one million in November.

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