Troubles in the world of cryptocurrencies. One of the main exchanges, OKEx, announces the suspension of withdrawals of crypto. The reason: one of the service’s private key holders is cooperating with an investigation and cannot be reached.
This is a major blow for Bitcoin. The value of the cryptomoney fell by almost 3% after an announcement from one of the major exchanges on the market. OKEx says it is suspending until further notice the withdrawal of cryptoactives from its platform.
Without any further details, the crypto exchange says that one of its private key holders “is currently cooperating with a public security office in the framework of investigations”. An ongoing investigation, therefore, but also a lost contact between the exchange and this private key holder.
An OKEx private key is missing
As a result, the cryptocurrency trading service is no longer able to operate. Arguing that it wants to act “in the best interest” of its customers, OKEx, therefore, decides to suspend its digital services.
“We assure you that OKEx’s other functions remain normal and stable and that the security of your crypto at OKEx will not be affected”, says the Malta-based exchange.
“We will resume digital asset/currency withdrawals as soon as the holder of the relevant private key is able to authorize the transaction” the company still promises. Without contact with the private key holder, however, it is impossible for the company to say when trading can resume.
The announcement of one of the five largest exchanges in the world triggers a sharp decline in the value of Bitcoin. As measured by Chain.info, the exchange alone holds just over 276,000 Bitcoins in its wallets. For customers, these assets are therefore now, and until further notice, frozen.
An alleged investigation by the Chinese authorities
What could be the cause of this suspension? According to journalist Colin Wu, based in China, it is an investigation by the Chinese authorities into a money-laundering case that would explain this situation.
“The Chinese government is cracking down on money laundering using cryptocurrencies for telecommunications fraud, and centralized exchanges are in a very dangerous situation,” he wrote. This information cannot be confirmed at this stage, however.
Cointelegraph wonders if there is a possible link with the wave of arrests made in the context of the dismantling of a global money-laundering network. According to Europol, 20 members of a cartel have been arrested by the authorities of 16 different countries.