Thunderclap in the world of cryptocurrencies. One of the main exchanges, OKEx, announces the suspension of withdrawals of cryptoassets. The reason: one of the service's private key holders is cooperating with an investigation and is not reachable.
This is a big blow for Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency's value fell almost 3% after an announcement from one of the market's major exchanges. OKEx indicates that it is suspending withdrawals of crypto-assets on its platform until further notice.
Without further clarification, the crypto exchange reports that one of its private key holders "is currently cooperating with a public security bureau in connection with investigations." An investigation in progress 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 its desire to act "in the best interest" of its customers, OKEx therefore decides to suspend its digital services.
"We assure you that other functions of OKEx remain normal and stable and that the security of your property at OKEx will not be affected," said the exchange headquartered in Malta, however.
"We will resume withdrawals of digital assets / currencies as soon as the holder of the relevant private key is able to authorize the transaction," the company further promises. Without contact with the latter, however, it is impossible for her to specify when trading can resume.
This announcement from one of the five largest exchanges in the world triggers a sharp decline in the value of Bitcoin. As Chain.info measures, the exchange alone houses just over 276,000 bitcoins in its wallets. For clients, therefore, these assets are now, and until further notice, frozen.
An alleged investigation by Chinese authorities
What could be the cause of this suspension? According to the journalist Colin Wu, based in China, is an investigation by Chinese authorities into a money laundering case that would explain this situation.
“The Chinese government is cracking down on money laundering using cryptocurrency for telecommunications fraud, and centralized exchanges are in a very dangerous situation,” he wrote. This information cannot be confirmed at this stage however.
Cointelegraph questions a possible link to the wave of arrests carried out in connection with the dismantling of a global money laundering network. According to Europol, 20 cartel members were arrested by authorities in 16 different countries.