Monday, February 4, 2019
Gerald Cotten, the 30-year-old founder of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX passed away in December from complications of Crohn's disease. It is just coming to light, however, that the executive may have been the only person with knowledge of the passwords needed to access $190 million of the company's funds.
Jennifer Robertson, Cotten's wife, said that he had the “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins,” locked with a digital key in "cold storage." She is in possession of her late husband's laptop, but even a security expert has been unable to get past the device’s encryption.
Both the company and Robertson's widow has applied for creditor protection with the Novia Scotia Supreme Court. “For the past weeks, we have worked extensively to address our liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets, and that are required to satisfy customer cryptocurrency balances on deposit, as well as sourcing a financial institution to accept the bank drafts that are to be transferred to us,” the company said in its statement. “Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”
See James Rogers, $190 Million Gone Forever? Crypto Boss Dies With Passwords Needed to Unlock Customer Accounts, Fox News, February 4, 2019; see also Quadriga: Cryptocurrency Exchange Founder's Death Locks $140m, BBC, February 4, 2019.