Crypto CEO dies with password to unlock $200 million customers’ Bitcoin

Irving Hamilton
February 5, 2019

Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX owes its customers about $190 million after its founder died suddenly previous year taking his encrypted access to the money with him.

The news followed a decision by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) to freeze US$28 million of assets held by Quadriga after saying it was unable to identify the real owners of the funds.

In an affidavit, the widow of Gerald Cotten, Quadriga's founder, CEO and sole director, said he died suddenly on December 9 due to complications from Crohn's disease.

What was the password again?

"The laptop computer from which Gerry carried out the Companies' business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key".

"Quadriga's inventory of cryptocurrency has become unavailable and some of it may be lost", Robertson wrote after her husband died suddenly of complications from Crohn's disease in December. "Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere".

The exchange's new directors voted to "temporarily pause" the exchange on January 26, according to Robertson. "They've left us completely in the dark", said Elvis Cavalic of Calgary.

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Robertson said in her affidavit she has received online threats and "slanderous comments", including questions about the nature of Cotten's death, and whether he is really dead.

The company is also investigating whether some of the cryptocurrency could be secured on other exchanges, according to court files.

"If this can not be done in an orderly fashion, many, if not all users, may suffer damage", she wrote.

In a sworn affidavit with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, widow Jennifer Robertson admitted the firm owed 250 million Canadian dollars in both cryptocurrency and cash to as many as 115,000 account holders.

When Quadriga was fully operational, its users could use a variety of means to fund an account with the exchange, from online transfers and automatic deposits to paying via cash or a debit card at thousands of Canada Post locations.

Robertson said Quadriga would consider selling its cryptocurrency platform as an option to fulfill its obligations to customers and creditors.

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