Researchers estimate that an ongoing “public security bureau” investigation has left $2.3 billion worth of Bitcoin (BTC) at the Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange OKEx in limbo.
Crypto withdrawals at the exchange remain frozen and official details on exactly what’s happening are sparse. Chinese media group Caixin reports that OKEx’s founder, Xu Mingxing, was taken away by the police at least a week ago. Two unnamed sources “close to OKEx” tell Caixin that Mingxing is the person in question. According to one of the sources, Mingxing’s disappearance impacts the withdrawal of crypto assets from the exchange.
OKEx has issued a press release on the matter but the statement is light on details.
“One of our private key holders is currently cooperating with a public security bureau in investigations where required. We have been out of touch with the concerned private key holder. As such, the associated authorization could not be completed.
Pursuant to 8.1 Service Change and Interruption of the Terms of Service, OKEx may change the Service and/or may also interrupt, suspend or terminate the service at any time with or without prior notice. In order to act in the best interests of customers and deliver exceptional longtime customer service, we have decided to suspend digital assets/cryptocurrencies withdrawals as of [October 16, 2020 at 11:00 (Hong Kong Time)].”
OKEx assures customers that their assets remain secure and that the exchange’s “other functions remain normal and stable.” The exchange’s CEO, Jay Hao, reiterates that the investigation does not involve OKEx as it focuses only on the personal issue of a private key holder.
All operations @OKEx except digital asset/cryptocurrency withdrawals remain unaffected.
All your funds and assets are safe.
The investigation concerns a certain private key holder’s personal issue only. Further announcements will be made.
— Jay_OKEX_CEO (@JayHao8) October 16, 2020
On-chain analytics platform Glassnode reveals that OKEx holds hundreds of thousands of BTC worth over $2 billion dollars.
“According to our data, around 200,000 BTC (1.1% of the circulating Bitcoin supply) are currently held in OKEx wallets. That is around $2.3 billion worth of $BTC stored in the exchange’s vaults.”
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