Death of crypto exchange founder leaves $190m in limbo

Cryptocurrency exchange loses $145 million after CEO takes passwords to the grave

A 30-year old CEO of a Canadian cryptocurrency firm reportedly died in India from complications from Crohn's disease (an intestinal inflammation disorder) taking with him passwords that has locked up $ 190 million in investor cryptocurrency. Ideally, it could let them access around $50 million or so that is now trapped in a legal battle with a Canadian bank, though a good portion of that money is their customers', too.

Customers also allege they were able to transfer thousands of dollars in crypto to QuadrigaCX last month when it was supposedly unable to access most of its wallets, but that money is gone as well.

Cryptocurrencies, which are not regulated or subject to industry oversight, are typically stored digitally on a computer server connected to the internet, which is known as a hot wallet.

But they did talk about the company around the founder's death, stories about QuadrigaCX were shared around December 9, the death of Cotten in India due to Crohn's Disease.

What was the password again?

In the affidavit, Ms Robertson, who was not involved in the business while Mr Cotten was alive, said: “The laptop computer from which Gerry carried out the companies business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key.

Mr Cotten held "sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins" and no other members of the team could access the stored funds, she said in a sworn affidavit as she filed for credit protection on 31 January.

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Meanwhile, the company's board of directors have also applied for creditor protection, with Ernst & Young expected to be appointed to steer its affairs. As well, she said she has received online death threats.

After Cotten died, QuadrigaCX employees tried to gain access to the company's cold wallets, but they either failed to get in or found the wallets held very little cryptocurrency.

The statement added: "Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful".

Which means the 115,000 or so users with balances in cryptocurrency and/or fiat money on their account may be unable to collect the cash they are owed.

Robertson has access to Cotten's laptop but writes that she is unable to open it. The company has less than half a million left in cash.

Robertson's affidavit notes that a copy of Cotten's death certificate was submitted to the court, with the J.A. Snow Funeral Home stating that he died on December 9, 2018, in Jaipur, India.

Now, the company is looking into selling its operating platform to stay afloat. The combination of peculiar circumstances prompted many cryptocurrency experts to question the official story.

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