Cryptopia liquidator reclaims $5M amid efforts to identify crypto owners

The liquidator managing the affairs of defunct New Zealand exchange Cryptopia has reclaimed US$5 million of funds stolen in the hack that brought down the exchange, despite ongoing challenges in tracing the funds.

Grant Thornton New Zealand, which was appointed to administer the exchange after it was forced to shut its doors by the hack, published details of the assets recovered, as well as spelling out the difficulties that remain in identifying the ownership of the cryptocurrency.

The first has so far recovered around NZ$10 million (US$6.61 million) by selling or converting Cryptopia’s assets. However, the process has incurred fees of NZ$3.7 million (US$2.45 million), eating into the amount left for creditors still out of pocket from its collapse.

While the remainder will now be eligible for distribution to creditors, the start of that process looks to be some time away, as the liquidator continues to struggle to determine true ownership of the assets.

According to Grant Thornton, there are over 900,000 customers on the exchange, with millions of transactions to assess to determine how the funds should be split.

“We are working to reconcile the accounts of over 900,000 active customers, many holding multiple crypto-assets, millions of transactions and potentially over 900 different crypto-assets.”

The difficulties are thought to have come from the way Cryptopia managed client funds, which were pooled in general wallets, rather than being stored in individual wallets assigned to user accounts.

“While Cryptopia held details of customer holdings and reported these on the Exchange, the crypto-assets themselves were pooled (co-mingled) in coin wallets. As a centralised exchange, customers’ trades would occur in the exchange’s internal ledger without confirmation on the blockchain.”

The liquidator highlighted that Cryptopia had not reconciled the amounts in its wallets with its customer database, which has left what has been described as a “mammoth task” to apportion ownership.

Cryptopia went into liquidation back in May following on from the hack. The liquidator’s next report is due to be submitted by May 2020, with a High Court hearing scheduled for February.

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