Gerald Cotten, QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange's owner took to the grave 190 million dollars belonging to the platform's clients. Some people, however, believe that Cotten faked the death and is still alive. They also demand the exhumation and autopsy of his body.
Doubts about the death of the QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange's owner
Miller Thomson, a Canadian law firm, has asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to exhume and carry out an autopsy of Gerald Cotten's body. Cotten was the head and owner of the, now-defunct Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX. He died in India in December 2018 as a result of a terminal illness. Cotten took private keys to cryptographic wallets to the grave with him, and as a consequence the users lost access to about 190 million dollars.
The lawyers explained in a letter to the RCMP that their request was justified, given the "questionable circumstances surrounding Mr. Cotten’s death and the significant losses" suffered by the exchange's users. According to the law firm, the information released after the death of the head of the exchange highlights the "the need for certainty around the question of whether Mr. Cotten is in fact deceased" even more.
After Cotten's death, QuadrigaCX had a long court case with creditors of the exchange, many of whom were speculating about the fate of lost cryptocurrencies. Some of them even said that the head might have faked his own death and run away with the clients' money.
Fall of QuadrigaCX. How did it all start?
QuadrigaCX started its activity in 2013 and became one of the largest Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges very quickly. Gerald Cotten was its sole owner and director. At the end of 2018 CIBC, that is one of the largest banks in Canada, froze five accounts belonging to Jose Reyes, the owner of the payment processor and of the Costodian Inc. exchange (a subsidiary of QuadrigaCX). The case went cold and some users could not access their accounts. Hardly anyone bothered then, though. It changed in January 2019, as news of Cotten's sudden death appeared in the media.
The most unusual thing, however, was the fact that after the sudden death of the founder, the exhange lost 190 million dollars in digital assets. Representatives of the exchange were unable to find or gain access to funds since Cotten's death in December, which led to the exchange's liquidity problems. It had only 286 thousand dollars in assets at that time, and owed its users around 190 million dollars. The users' assets were kept in a cold wallet, and only Cotten knew the password to it.
In early February, the board of the exchange petitioned to protect creditors at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. In April, QuadrigaCX officially declared bankruptcy. In June, E&Y company which carried out the control of the exchange, published a report showing that Cotten transferred the users' funds from the exchange and used them as security for their personal trading on other platforms. What is more, as this document states, Cotten created fake QuadrigaCX accounts under several nicknames and used them to trade on the platform to demonstrate artificial income. Users began their own investigation which has proven that "lost" BTC from the QuadrigaCX exchange are exchanged on other exchanges.
Doubts are also raised by the fact that in October 2018 Cotten got married and as soon as in November he transferred all his financial assets to his wife, making her the only executor of his property. Moreover, in December he went to India, where he allegedly died as a result of an extremely rare coincidence, which, according to a great number of Internet users question the credibility of such events. The victims suspect that the head of the cryptocurrency exchange faked his death in order to steal clients' money, and therefore they applied for exhumation to confirm his identity and investigate the cause of death.