Gerald Cotten, whose sudden death left CAD 190 million ($145 million) in Bitcoin and other digital assets protected by his passwords irretrievable, signed his last will and testament on 27 November 2018.
Wednesday 06, February 2019
(Bloomberg) --Gerald Cotten, the Canadian behind cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga CX, filed a will 12 days before his death listing substantial assets, according to court documents.
He left all his assets to his wife, Jennifer Robertson, and made her the executor to his estate, the documents show.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Michael Wood granted Quadriga a 30-day stay on Tuesday in a bid to stop any lawsuits from proceeding against the company at this time, the Canadian Press reported. The Vancouver-based firm was also granted protection from creditors.
The exchange, launched in December 2013, allowed users to deposit cash or cryptocurrency through its online trading platform, storing the digital coins on blockchain ledgers that are accessible only by an immutable alphanumeric code. The company had 363,000 registered users, of which 92,000 have account balances owing to them in cash or cryptocurrencies, according to court filings. Cotten was the sole officer and director.
Cotten died 9 December of complications due to Crohn’s disease in Jaipur, India, according to Robertson’s affidavit and a statement of death from Snow Funeral Home in Halifax, dated 12 December. He was 30. The couple, who lived in the Halifax suburb of Fall River in Nova Scotia, did not have any children.
The firm cannot retrieve about CAD 190 million in Bitcoin, Litecoin as well as Ether and other digital tokens held for its customers, nor can Vancouver-based Quadriga CX pay the CAD 70 million in cash those clients are owed.
Cotten was always conscious about security -- the laptop, email addresses and messaging system he used to run the five-year-old business were encrypted. He took sole responsibility for the handling of funds and coins and the banking and accounting side of the business and, to avoid being hacked, moved the "majority" of digital coins into what’s known as cold storage, or unconnected to the internet, the filing said.
The problem is, Robertson said she cannot find his passwords or any business records for the company. Experts brought in to try to hack into Cotten’s other computers and mobile phone met with only "limited success" and attempts to circumvent an encrypted USB key have been foiled, she said in the court filing.