Gerald Cotten, the recently deceased CEO of major Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX, had filed a will 12 days before his death, Bloomberg writes Tuesday, Feb. 5.
According to the documents obtained by Bloomberg, Cotten signed his last will and testament on Nov. 27, 2018. He mentioned his wife, Jennifer Robertson, as the only beneficiary and the executor to his estate.
Bloomberg has learned that Robertson will inherit several properties in Nova Scotia, where the couple lived, and in Kelowna, British Columbia, as well as a Lexus, a Jeanneau 51 yacht, an airplane and his two pet chihuahuas.
Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX has faced financial difficulty since its CEO Gerald Cotten reportedly died of complications from Crohn’s disease in December 2018.
According to a January affidavit filed by Robertson, Cotten was the only person to have access to QuadrigaCX wallets, and the CEO had not left any evidence of passwords. The reported number of users affected is over 100,000, with around $250 million CAD ($190 million USD) in cryptocurrency and fiat currency purportedly lost.
Cotten was always conscious about security — the laptop, email addresses and messaging system he used to run the 5-year-old business were encrypted, according to an affidavit from his widow, Jennifer Robertson. 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 cold storage.
His security measures are understandable. Virtual currency exchanges suffered at least five major attacks last year. Japan, home to some of the world’s most active digital-asset exchanges, has also hosted two of the biggest known crypto hacks: the Mt. Gox debacle of 2014 and the theft of nearly $500 million in digital tokens from Coincheck Inc. last January.
The problem is, Robertson said she can’t 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, his widow, who lives a suburb of Halifax, said in the court filing.
“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 firm said. “Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.’
As is often the case with crypto, the episode has raised speculation on Reddit’s online forums, where posters are wondering aloud if the business was a scam, calling for class-action lawsuits and even concocting conspiracy theories that call into question whether the CEO is even deceased. The latest online speculation suggests that Quadriga CX funds have been moving — even though the firm claims they can’t get access.