In August 2016, $72 million worth of bitcoin was stolen from Bitfinex, a bitcoin exchange. This was the second-largest theft of bitcoin, with 120,000 units of bitcoin stolen, about 0.75% of all bitcoin then in circulation. Bitfinex announced the theft on August 2, 2016. The bitcoin was taken from users' segregated wallets, according to a Bitfinex spokesman.
Law enforcement and loss incurrence
Two months before the theft the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission ordered Bitfinex to pay a $75,000 fine for offering illegal off-exchanged financed commodity transactions. The order also found that Bitfinex violated the Commodity Exchange Act by not registering as a Futures Commission Merchant.
The terms of Bitfinex stated that “bitcoins in your multi-signature wallets belong to and are owned by you,” and imposing losses on customers who were not hacked would breach the terms.
Exchange customers, even those whose accounts had not been broken into, had their account balance reduced by 36% and received BFX tokens in proportion to their losses.
In September 2016, Bitfinex announced that it had bought back over 1% of the BFX tokens. The USD/BTC exchange rate rebounded to over $600 from $540, the price after the hack, after the announcement in hopes of further equity conversion and redemption of BFX tokens.
Lack of governance
Bitfinex operates in several countries and it is not clear which country regulates its operations. Bitcoin does not have a governance system other than for its software. Bitcoin transactions are irreversible and there is no way for users to reverse an unwanted transaction.
- "Bitcoin Worth $72M Was Stolen in Bitfinex Exchange Hack in Hong Kong". Fortune. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- "CFTC Orders Bitcoin Exchange Bitfinex to Pay $75,000 for Offering Illegal Off-Exchange Financed Retail Commodity Transactions and Failing to Register as a Futures Commission Merchant". Commodity Futures Trading Commission. June 2, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
- "FINANCE BITCOIN Can Bitfinex Really Impose a $72 Million Theft on Its Customers?". Fortune. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- Baldwin, Clare (6 August 2016). "Bitfinex exchange customers to get 36 percent haircut, debt token". Reuters. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
- Mizrahi, Avi. "Bitcoin Price Back Above $600 for First Time since Bitfinex Hack". Retrieved 26 October 2016.
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