Investors locked out of £110m in cryptocurrency after exchange CEO dies

Canada's largest cryptocurrency exchange is unable to access around $145m in cryptocurrency after its founder suddenly died, taking with him the only password for the digital account

The founder of Quadriga, Gerald Cotten, died on 9 December from complications related to Chron’s disease while travelling in India, where he was opening an orphanage.

Cotton, 30, had sole responsibility for handling the cryptocurrency funds and coins for around 115,000 investors but, since his death, Quadriga has not been able to locate or secure its cryptocurrency reserves.

Cotton’s widow, in court documents filed with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on 31 January, has said that the laptop on which Cotton carried out the companies’ business is encrypted and that she does not know and has not been able to find the password.

The company hired an investigator to see if any information could be retrieved but ongoing efforts have had only ‘limited success in recovering a few coins’ and some information from Cotten's computer and phone.

Quadriga is due in court in Nova Scotia on 5 February for a preliminary hearing on appointing EY as an independent monitor to oversee the proceedings.

In a statement, the company said: ‘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.

‘Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful. Further updates will be issued after the hearing.’

Report by Amy Austin

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