Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX has lost access to $190 million worth of funds after founder Gerald Cotten died suddenly last December.
Although reports around the circumstances of Cotten’s death are sketchy, the company released a statement explaining the 30-year-old died from complications related to Crohn’s disease. Tragically, the tech entrepreneur was traveling in India “opening an orphanage to provide a home and safe refuge for children in need.”
However, Cotten’s passing has plunged the cryptocurrency platform into chaos. Since his death, neither QuadrigaCX employees nor his widow, Jennifer Robertson, have been able to gain access to critical login information or passwords. Robertson explained that although she has his personal laptop in her possession, she is unable to recover company information:
“The laptop computer from which Gerry carried out the company’s 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.”
News of Cotten’s death led to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) to freeze $28m of assets after it became unclear who the rightful owners of the funds were. Now, in a court file obtained by CoinDesk, it has been reported that the exchange owes users approximately $250 million CAD ($190 million USD) in cryptocurrencies.
After their run-in with the CIBC, QuadrigaCX applied for creditor protection. In a statement now published on the company’s website, QuadrigaCX explains how they have “worked extensively” to “locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves.” However, the statement concludes with “unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.” Finally, they invite customers to wait for further information until after a court hearing, which is scheduled for February 5.
As of January 31 this year there were 115,000 users signed up to the exchange. QuadrigaCX holds approximately 26,500 bitcoin ($92.3 million USD), 11,000 bitcoin cash ($1.3 million), 11,000 bitcoin cash SV ($707,000), 35,000 bitcoin gold ($352,000), nearly 200,000 Litecoin ($6.5 million) and about 430,000 Ether ($46 million).
Some users are skeptical about the company’s claims – for instance, experts have observed some unusual activity on QuadrigaCX wallets since the freeze. However, despite not being involved in the business, Cotten’s widow has got much of the heat for the organization’s misdemeanors. In comments included in the court filing, Robertson said:
“There has been a significant amount of commentary on Reddit and other web-based platforms about Quadriga, Gerry’s death (including whether he is really dead) and missing coins.”
She also noted that she has received violent threats and degrading messages.