Questions are piling up over crypto exchange QuadrigaCX losing access to $145 million in crypto, such as whether the CEO is actually dead.
Owning something and not being able to access it is beyond frustrating. This frustration is multiplied many times over when the object of ownership is cryptocurrency that is locked away in a cold storage wallet where the keys have been lost. BitcoinerX recently reported on QuadrigaCX, the Canadian crypto exchange, that lost access to $145 million in funds for over 100,000 users due to the death of the co-founder and CEO, Gerald Cotten. The case just gets weirder as more questions arise, such as speculation that Cotten faked his death and absconded with the money.
Last Will and Testament of QuadrigaCX CEO
Cotten, who was 30-years-old, was reported to have died December 9th, 2018, in India from complications from Crohn’s disease. He was in India to work on opening an orphanage.
His death caused a massive problem for the exchange as he was the sole person who had the keys necessary to gain access to the exchange’s cold storage wallets, which held the majority of the platform’s funds. Over 100,000 users were affected, and the total amount of cryptocurrency locked away was reported at $145 million USD.
His widow, Jennifer Robertson, has been unable to find the keys, and consultants have not been able to bypass the encryption on his laptop, which supposedly contains the keys. The exchange has filed for protection from lawsuits for 30 days as they try to deal with the situation, and this motion was granted by the court.
However, Bloomberg reports that Cotton filed a last will and testament just 12 days before he died. In it, he left his entire estate to his wife, as well as making her the executor. The assets given to his wife include several properties, a 2017 Lexus, a yacht, an airplane, and his two pet chihuahuas. One would think that he would have made provision for transferring the keys into her possession as he was clearly considering his mortality.
Compounding the issue is the speculation that Cotton did not die but actually faked his own death. A death certificate from the Government of Rajasthan’s Directorate of Economics and Statistics states that he died in a hospital in the city of Jaipur on December 9th. Skeptics note that buying a fake death certificate in India is not the hardest thing to do.
Raising even more eyebrows is that QuadrigaCX had been moving Ether from its wallet to other exchanges up to mid-January, a full month after Cotten’s death. Cotten was allegedly the only one who had access to the wallets and, therefore, the only one who could move the coins.
Compounding the issue is that exchange refuses to give out the public keys to the cold storage wallets so users can verify the amounts of cryptocurrency contained. Emin Gün Sirer, a professor at Cornell University and co-director of the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts, says this entire situation does not pass the “smell test.”
So, the question remains: did Gerald Cotten really die in India, taking the private keys to his grave? Why was there no provision to transfer knowledge of the keys in case of an emergency, as would be expected of any corporation that has over a hundred million in assets? Why won’t QuadrigaCX allow people to verify the amounts by examining the blockchain data using the public keys? This entire situation just gets more and more curious.
What do you think is going on? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay and ZeroHedge.