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Crypto exchange left skint after only password holder dies

QuadrigaCX was forced to file for creditor protection after its founder, the only one who could access the exchanges' 'cold storage', died unexpectedly last December
Bitcoin on keyboard
Among other cryptocurrencies, the exchange holds roughly 26,500 bitcoins (US$92.3mln)

QuadrigaCX, a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, has been left with a bill of US$190mln in client holdings, most of which it says it cannot repay, after the only person with the password to its offline storage died unexpectedly.

Gerald Cotten, the exchange’s founder, passed away in India in December last year and was the only person who knew the password to the ‘cold storage’, an offline environment designed to protect stored cryptocurrencies from internet hackers.

Cannot access storage

In a filing with the Supreme Court in Nova Scotia, Jennifer Robertson, Cotten’s widow, said the exchange owed the sum in a mixture of both crypto and fiat money, but was forced to file for creditor protection as it could not access the storage.

According to the sworn affidavit filed with the court, the exchange holds roughly 26,500 bitcoin (US$92.3mln), 11,000 bitcoin cash (US$1.3mln), 11,000 bitcoin cash SV (US$707,000), 35,000 bitcoin gold (US$352,000), around 200,000 litecoin (US$6.5mln), and 430,000 ether (US$46 million).

Robertson said that Cotton had sole responsibility for handling the coins and funds which made up the exchange and that while she did have his laptop, the device’s encryption had yet to be broken despite attempts by a consultant.

The company did still have access to funds stored in its ‘hot wallet’, an online crypto storage that is more easily accessible but also more vulnerable, although Robertson said that only a small amount of crypto was stored there.

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