Where’s the Trust in a Cryptocurrency Exchange?

Emily Gillett, Simon Collier and Tim Bost

On 14 January 2019, the New Zealand cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia was hacked and approximately NZD$30 million was stolen. By the end of May 2019, Cryptopia had been placed into liquidation. The liquidators were tasked with determining who had an interest in the remaining cryptocurrencies and what the nature of their interests were.  Earlier this year, in Ruscoe v Cryptopia [2020] NZHC 728, the New Zealand High Court held that cryptocurrency was a species of property and, that in the circumstances, the cryptocurrencies were held on trust for the accountholders. This article analyses the Court’s decision and some of its potential implications going forward.

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