QuadrigaCX Founder's Death Leaves Exchange Unable to Access Over $190 of Cryptocurrency Assets
Gerry Cotton, Founder of QuadrigaCX, died without sharing the password to access the exchange’s cold storage.
By Block Society
QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotton passed away unexpectedly from complications from Crohn’s disease, leaving the exchange unable to access its fiat or cryptocurrency holdings because Cotton was the only person with the password to access the exchange’s cold storage.
Cotton’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, stated that she is unable to access the cold storage or log in to Cotton’s encrypted laptop, which was used to run QuadrigaCX. Robertson filed for relief under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act on behalf of QuadrigaCX in Nova Scotia’s Superior Court.
Robertson stated in the filing that “the laptop Gerry carried out the Companies business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key. Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere. I have retained an expert, Chris McBryan Insp, who I understand to be highly qualified in this area, to assist in recovering any information about the Companies and Quadriga business records. To date, the expert has had some limited success in recovering a few coins and some information from Gerry’s cell phone and other computer, but not yet from the main computer he used to conduct business.”
“Cotton’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, stated that she is unable to access the cold storage or log in to Cotton’s encrypted laptop, which was used to run QuadrigaCX.“
The affidavit filed by Robertson also shares that the majority of coins held by Quadriga were put in cold storage, Cotton was solely responsible for the handling of coins and banking for Quadriga and Cotton may have moved some of Quadriga’s coins to other exchanges.
The QuadrigaCX platform was paused on January 26, 2019 to prevent future deposits, as automatic deposits by users continued despite the inability of users to withdraw funds from the exchange. Robertson shared that QuadrigaCX is exploring selling the platform and several parties have offered to run QuadrigaCX.
The filing requests the Novia Scotia Superior Court to stall any lawsuits brought by potential debtors.
In January 2019, shortly after Cotton’s death, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce froze $26 million of Quadriga’s assets due to irregulates. The Ontario Superior Court later stated that $67 million worth of assets were wrongfully transferred to a third-party payment processor (Costodian Inc.).
Quadriga currently has over 115,000 users and holds $190 million worth of cryptocurrency and over $80 CAD worth of fiat currency. According to Robertson’s affidavit, Quadriga exchange holds roughly 26,500 bitcoin ($92.3 million USD), 11,000 Bitcoin Cash ($1.3 million), 11,000 Bitcoin Vash SV ($707,000), 35,000 Bitcoin Gold ($352,000), 200,000 Litecoin ($6.5 million) and 430,000 Ether ($46 million).
Additionally, multiple third-party processors are holding over $30 million of Quadriga’s fiat currency and, due to banking issues, are unable to deposit funds in Quadriga’s accounts, preventing users from accessing their funds.
It is unclear is Quadriga customers will recover any of the $190 million.
If Quadriga fails to regain access to its fiat and cryptocurrency assets, the coins and tokens will be dead, meaning they will no longer be in circulation. The impact of 26,500 Bitcoin and $190 million of coins and tokens being permanently removed from circulation could benefit current cryptocurrency holders. With diminishing supply, values of BTC and other coins could increase.
Additionally, the issues experienced with Cotton’s passing signifies the importance of working with a trusted financial advisor to ensure there is a path to inheritance for executors and heirs to access digital assets in the case of incompetency or death.
McKay, Tom. 3 February 2019. Crypto Exchange Says It Can’t Repay $190 Million to Clients After Founder Dies With Only Password. https://gizmodo.com/crypto-exchange-says-it-cant-repay-190-million-to-clie-1832309454?fbclid=IwAR1bcSWYhATWsx-Lqc4xV0AEeh7MNL5byyh7DWjg9foabrUcJJrnQv9BOfk.
Robertson, Jennifer. 31 January 2019. Companies Creditors Arrangement Act Filing. https://www.scribd.com/document/398721572/Jennifer-Robertson-Affidavit#from_embed?campaign=SkimbitLtd&ad_group=58287X1517249Xdb59a52077bbfa5fff5bdfedaa4cdd35&keyword=660149026&source=hp_affiliate&medium=affiliate
De, Nikhilesh. 1 February 2019. QuadrigaCX Owes Customers $190 Million, Court Filing Shows. https://www.coindesk.com/quadriga-creditor-protection-filing