Sudden demise of Gerald Cotten freezes $190 million worth of cryptocurrency

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Investigation over the sudden death of Gerald Cotton, CEO of  Canada’s largest exchange company QuadrigaCX, has revealed that the team was unable to access password or recovery key, which blocks around $190 million worth cryptocurrency.

Cotten, 30 who died last December solely controlled the handling of funds and coins.

According to the official statement released by his company, Cotten died during his trip in India, suffering from Crohn’s disease. He was in India “opening an orphanage to provide a home and safe refuge for children in need”.


In response to the news, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) has blocked $28m of assets held by Quadriga after declaring it was unable to identify the real owners of the funds.


As reported by CoinDesk, his wife Jennifer Robertson filed for creditor’s protection in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on 31 January, explaining that the laptop on which Cotten carried out the companies’ business was encrypted, and she doesn’t have any information about its password or recovery key.


The affidavit states “Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere.”


Robertson is being assisted by an expert to try to access the funds but there seems to be no progress so far.


Her court statement also discloses that the majority of the cryptocurrency was kept by Quadriga in a “cold wallet” or “cold storage”, which is located offline and used to secure cryptocurrency from hacking or theft.


In a statement posted online last Thursday, Quadriga said it is working to address its “liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallet”.


It is speculated that if the company has placed its cryptocurrency in an offline device, which cannot be accessed now, it is likely that thousands of users would lose their funds forever.


At a court hearing on 5 February, the company is seeking to appoint Ernst & Young as an independent monitor.

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