December 16, 2019 07:02:29
Lawyers for customers who lost money investing in an insolvent Canadian cryptocurrency exchange have asked police to exhume the body of its founder.
- Gerald Cotten, 30, died in December 2018, from complications related to Crohn’s disease
- He was the sole holder of a password to over $200 million in cryptocurrency owed to QuadrigaCX’s customers
- Lawyers for the affected users say they want his body exhumed to verify his death
Gerald Cotten, founder of QuadrigaCX, which was once Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, died in December 2018 while on his honeymoon in India from complications related to Crohn’s disease.
Mr Cotten was the sole holder of a password to cryptocurrency accounts in excess of $200 million, and efforts to retrieve the logins have so far proved unsuccessful.
Law firm Miller Thomsen have requested the Royal Canadian Mounted Police exhume the 30-year-old’s body to address what it says are “questionable” circumstances surrounding his death and to confirm he is in fact dead.
Founder took password to grave
In January 2019, Mr Cotten’s widow Jennifer Robertson, who was not involved in the company while Mr Cotten was alive, announced in a court affidavit she could not access QuadrigaCX’s ‘cold wallet’.
A ‘cold wallet’ is a form of offline storage designed as a security precaution to prevent hackers from stealing entire online reserves of cryptocurrency in a security breach.
Only the minimum funds needed day-to-day are stored in a ‘hot wallet’, with the bulk of investment funds held offline in cold storage.
“I am … advised … there should be in excess of [$198,000] of coins in cold storage,” she said.
“The laptop computer from which [Mr Cotten] 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.”
The company is currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings in Canada, with more than 115,000 of its 363,000 users owed money.
Report finds significant problems in QuadrigaCX management
An analysis by auditor Ernst & Young found significant problems in how the exchange was managed, including findings that Mr Cotten created certain accounts on the Quadriga platform under aliases that may have been used to trade on the exchange.
It was also found that substantial funds were transferred to Mr Cotten personally and to other related parties.
The auditor managed to recoup approximately $36 million in missing funds.
Since Mr Cotten’s death was announced, online conspiracy theories have emerged suggesting the founder may have faked his own death and absconded with the funds.
Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition which Mr Cotten was diagnosed with six years before his death, is not usually fatal.
The lawyers asked for the body to be exhumed swiftly due to “decomposition concerns”.
Through her lawyers, Ms Robertson said she was “heartbroken” to learn of the request.
“Gerry died on December 9, 2018, in India — an independent investigation by [Canadian newspaper] the Globe & Mail confirmed this earlier this year, and it should not be in doubt,” the statement said.
“While Ms Robertson has assisted the Quadriga affected users in the recovery of assets, and has cooperated fully with Ernst & Young’s investigation, it is not clear how the exhumation or an autopsy to confirm the cause of Mr Cotten’s death from complications arising from his Crohn’s disease would assist the asset recovery process further.”
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December 15, 2019 13:32:37
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