Back to work at bitcoin's embattled Mt.Gox

Mt.Gox, the troubled Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange, tried to signal it was on the long road to recovery Monday, stating it would look to restore the business and recover damages to repay creditors.

Rather than filing for bankruptcy on Friday, the company opted for "bankruptcy protection," a Chapter 11-style civil rehabilitation that gives the company time to reorganize its affairs with lawyers treating it as an ongoing concern.

Despite detailing that it had outstanding debts of about 6.5 billion Japanese yen ($63.6 million), 850,000 lost bitcoins and 127,000 empty-handed customers, the exchange said it was looking to continue doing business so it could start repaying its creditors.

(Read More: A user just filed the first lawsuit against Mt.Gox)

"(This) will not be for the sole benefit of the company but for that of the whole bitcoin community," the company said in a statement posted on its website on Monday morning.

A bitcoin trader is surrounded by reporters as he protests against Tokyo-based bitcoin changer Mt.Gox in front of the company's office.
Yoshikazu Tsuno | AFP | Getty Images

"All efforts will now be made to restore the business and recover damages to repay debts to creditors. We hope for the understanding and cooperation of all."

Mt.Gox reiterated on Monday that it believed nearly $500 million worth of bitcoin may have been lost. It blamed the disappearance on a bug in bitcoin's framework called "transaction malleability." This means that while users were receiving incomplete transaction messages when using the exchange, in reality bitcoins may have been illicitly moved by hackers out of their accounts.

And it's not just its missing bitcoins that Mt.Gox is investigating. The company said that it had found large discrepancies between the amount of cash it holds in financial institutions and the amount deposited by its users. This black hole in fiat currency – money that's considered legal tender -- amounts to approximately 2.8 billion Japanese yen ($27 million), the exchange said on Monday.

(Read More: Bitcoin's Mt.Gox disappears, insolvency feared)

The new statement, however, offered little hope for users that had bitcoins held at the exchange with legal experts suggesting that they would be last in line for any repayments that are available. The issues continue to cause anger in the bitcoin community with some customers taking to Reddit to express their dissatisfaction.

"How do funds in the bank go missing?," asked one contributor to the Reddit debate. Another said that users would have to be "pretty desperate" to want to give Mt.Gox any further business. The company set up a call center on Monday to respond to inquiries from customers, but even that has sparked criticism.

(Read more: How to make money from bitcoin)

Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy
Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy

Kolin Burges, a U.K.-based former software programmer, traveled to Tokyo to be part of a small protest outside Mt.Gox's office in recent weeks. Writing on his personal blog on Monday he said he tried to phone the new customer helpline four times and was treated to a selection of ambient music before receiving no answer.

The Japanese exchange - which once claimed it handled around 80 percent of all global dollar trades for bitcoin - is an online marketplace where people can buy or sell bitcoins using different currencies. Its customers have been unable to withdraw their bitcoins and convert them into U.S. dollars since the beginning of February.

(Read More: Mt.Gox CEO: 'I'm still in Japan')

Its website was abruptly taken offline last Tuesday as company execs began to find out the full extent of its problems. The exchange deleted all of its tweets from its Twitter account last Monday and CEO Mark Karpeles resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation last Sunday. The company has announced that it had moved offices due to "security problems," and officially filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday afternoon.

But that's not all. It also received a subpoena from a U.S. federal prosecutor last week and Japanese authorities are also investigating its abrupt closure. Reuters reported on Friday that the first lawsuit against Mt.Gox had been filed in a U.S. District Court in Chicago on Thursday.

Meanwhile, there was good news for the industry in the U.K. on Monday. The HM Revenue & Customs has told traders that it is looking to scrap a 20 percent value added tax on the new technology, according to reports. It also said it would not charge a levy on margins either. The price of bitcoin has remained steady throughout last week's revelations, trading close to $550, according to CoinDesk.

By's Matt Clinch; Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81