The sudden death of millionaire Gerald Cotten in 2018 left hundreds of thousands of people without access to their cryptocurrencies.
The access code of the cryptocurrency platform QuadrigaCX is buried with its creator. Gerald Cotten’s company is one of the largest virtual currency exchanges in Canada: it allows its users to convert or store cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) in an extremely secure computer space. So secure that no one today knows how to access it.
According to his widow Jennifer Robertson, Gerald Cotten is the only one who knows the password to unlock his laptop hard drive: this hard drive contains the encryption key to access the QuadrigaCX platform, whose transactions have been blocked since its founder died in December 2018. The full equivalent of C$188 million (€128 million) for QuadrigaCX’s 115,000 customers has since been inaccessible, claims its widow.
This is an unacceptable situation for the platform’s client lawyers, especially since doubts have been raised about the circumstances of Mr Cotton’s death since his disappearance. On December 8, 2018, he was admitted to the Municipal Hospital while helping to set up an orphanage in Jaipur, India. The Canadian suffered from intestinal perforation and obstruction, peritonitis and septic shock, according to hospital staff at the scene. The 30-year-old man with Crohn’s disease will die of cardiac arrest the following night.
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Aside from this unexpected death, Crohn’s disease patients don’t usually die from the disease, and other suspicious factors have also caught the attention of Mr Cotton’s former clients. The millionaire in particular wrote his will twelve days before his death. In the latter, he made no mention of the code protecting his computer.
Additionally, analytics firm Elementus and several independent researchers claim that public trading records related to QuadrigaCX suggest the money is gone. Financial auditing firm Ernst & Young shared an analysis that managed to find five “cold wallets” of the Canadian company that, according to them, have been around since April 2018, just a few days before the millionaire’s death. month, these wallets will be empty.
QuadrigaCX’s client lawyers are now calling for the exhumation of Gerald Cotten’s remains “due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding his disappearance”. They called for an “excavation by spring 2020” due to concerns about the body’s decomposition.
As a result of these suspicions, Mr Cotton’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, claimed to have received threats on the internet. In a statement cited by Canadian media citing her lawyer, Jennifer Robertson said she was “shocked” to learn of the excavation request.