CEO Gerald Cotten reportedly died very suddenly from Crohn’s disease in December 2018 while opening an orphanage in Rajasthan, India.
According to his recently new wife, Jennifer Robertson, only Cotten could access QuadrigaCX’s digital wallets, and died without sharing the passwords with ANYONE.
The 30-year old Cotten allegedly stored the account passwords on a highly encrypted laptop. No one, not even security experts, has been able to unlock since his death. In fact, Mrs Robertson claims she doesn’t even know if they’re located on the laptop.
The blockchain exchange is now unable to open the wallets. This has resulted in the likely loss of 190 million USD in crypto and fiat funds, affecting over 115,000 users. However, the full story is much stranger then this…..
What is the true story of Quadriga CX?
- Quadriga is founded – Before attending the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, Gerald Cotten lived in Belleville, Ontario. He graduated from York with a bachelor of business administration in 2010. He learned about bitcoin in Toronto and traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia where he founded Quadriga in November 2013 with Michael Patryn.
- Quadriga started by doing only local trades. Their online exchange launched after the first month. In January 2014 they installed the second Bitcoin ATM in Vancouver. In 2014 only C$7.4-million worth of bitcoin were exchanged on Quadriga.
- The company tried to raise money and list on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) working with Patryn. The company raised C$850,000 but cancelled plans to list on the exchange in early 2016. Quadriga had four employees in 2015 with offices in Vancouver and Toronto, but ran out of money by June 2015.
29 February 2016
- QuadrigaCX directors Anthony Milewski and Lovie Horner resign. Soon after, Director Bill Filtness and chief financial officer Natasha Tsai resign. Cotten became the sole director of Quadriga when all the other directors resigned. Other than a few contractors, it had no employees, offices or bank accounts thereafter.
8 March 2016
- British Columbia Securities Commission issues QuadrigaCX with a cease trade order, banning the exchange from selling securities. The order states Quadriga did not submit “annual audited financial statements for the year ended October 31, 2015” or file a “Management’s Discussion and Analysis” for the same period.
- QuadrigaCX reveals it lost $14m worth of Ethereum, which it attributes to a smart contract error. In 2017 Bitcoin experienced a speculative frenzy rising in price from about US$1,000 to almost US$20,000. About C$1.2-billion worth of bitcoin was exchanged on Quadriga. While the large increase in volume increased commissions, it also caused cash-flow problems due to the exchange’s reliance on external payment processors and its lack of a proper accounting system. In June 2017, Quadriga announced that they had lost ethereum worth US$14 million due to a smart contract error.
The missing Millions
- Financial difficulties begin. Throughout 2018, as Bitcoin prices crashed, A few customers of the exchange reported delays when attempting to withdraw dollars.
- More QuadrigaCX customers reveal they have been experiencing continued delays withdrawing funds for “months”.
- QuadrigaCX attributes cash out delays to disputes with Canadian banks. According to court filings, Quadriga used WB21 as a payment processor.
- QuadrigaCX disputes a $19.6m sum with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). The CIBC says it is unable to determine the real owners of the funds. Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail reports that QuadrigaCX has been experiencing difficulties accessing $16.3m of its fund since January 2018.
9 November 2018
- Ontario Superior Court rules in favour of CIBC, saying that owner of the $19.6m funds is unclear.
27 November 2018
- Cotten files a will that leaves all his assets to his wife, Jennifer Robertson, naming her as the sole benefactor and executor to his estate. Cotten’s will which was signed on 27 November 2018, twelve days before he allegedly died. It would leave Robertson the entire C$9.6-million estate and named her as the trustee. The estate includes an airplane, a sailboat, a 2017 Lexus, and real estate in Kelowna, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. A C$100,000 trust fund will provide lifelong care for Cotten’s two chihuahuas in case of Robertson’s deat
The mysterious Death
9 December 2018
- QuadrigaCX co-founder and CEO Gerry Cotten dies age 30 while building an orphanage in India as a result of complications from Crohn’s disease, according to a statement made over a month later by the company. According to Jennifer Robertson, Cotten’s widow, he died on 9 December 2018 while travelling in India. She had accompanied him to a hospital in Jaipur the previous day and he was diagnosed with septic shock, perforation, peritonitis, and intestinal obstruction. On the 9th, he allegedly died after episodes of cardiac arrest. On 10 December a death certificate was issued by the local municipality, as well as a “no objection certificate” from the police to return the body to Nova Scotia. The deth certificate also recored his name incorrectly as “Cottan”.
14 January 2019
- Ernst & Young found five Quadriga cold wallet addresses, but they were empty, containing no cryptocurrency since April 2018. Another “appears” to have been used to receive Bitcoin from another cryptocurrency exchange account and subsequently transfer Bitcoin to the Quadriga hot wallet” on 3 December, just days before Cotten’s death.
- Another 3 empty wallets were believed to possibly be owned by Quadriga. Fourteen trading accounts that were also examined were used to trade on other exchanges. Shockingly, Quadriga CX continued to accept deposits until 26 January
- QuadrigaCX goes offline for “maintenance”, according to the exchange.
- Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, submits an affidavit with Novia Scotia Supreme Court that states her husband was the only person who had the passwords granting access to the laptop cold storage containing around $137m in cryptocurrencies. QuadrigaCX files for creditor protection in a step to avoid bankruptcy.
- Founder and CEO of non-custodial wallet MyCrypto raises the possibility that there may not have been an Ethereum cold wallet at all.
- An Indian government-issued death certificate appears to corroborate QuadrigaCX’s statement, but the certificate misspells ‘Cotten’ as ‘Cottan’. Canadian Apex Court re-appoints Ernst & Young to investigate the lost funds during a preliminary hearing. Research conducted by the editor of blog Zerononcence cannot find evidence for the existence of a QuadrigaCX Bitcoin cold wallet.
- The Canadian Supreme Court grants QuadrigaCX a court order for creditor protection, giving the exchange 30 days of initial protection from its creditors while it comes up with a ‘Plan of Arrangement’.
What else happened at Quadriga?
Court documents filed in late January offer some further insight into the company.
What was clear in both of their findings was that Quadriga’s asset shortfall was a result of Cotten’s fraudulent activity. “What happened at Quadriga was an old-fashioned fraud wrapped in modern technology,” the OSC report said.
Cotten created fictitious accounts and was trading at times in fake dollars and fake bitcoin. His largest account was under the alias Chris Markay and at one point, he credited himself with single deposits of $100 million and $50 million dollars, respectively. He had other fake accounts, too: Aretwo Deetwo, Seethree Peaohhh — and Sceptre Gerry.
The OSC report also found that in the first year of operation, Cotten was involved in the majority of trades on Quadriga. Unbeknownst to customers, he was the counterparty in more than 87 per cent of the bitcoin trades done on his own company’s platform in 2014.
Quadriga had no offices, no employees and no bank accounts. It was essentially a one-man band run entirely by Cotten wherever he – and his laptop – happened to be, which was usually his home in Fall River, Nova Scotia.
His widow, Jennifer Robertson, says she was not involved in the company until her husband died suddenly on 9 December in India from complications related to Crohn’s disease.
In an affidavit, she says she has searched the couple’s home and other properties for business records related to Quadriga, to no avail. The laptop on which he conducted all the business is encrypted and she doesn’t have the password or recovery key.
An investigator hired to assist in recovering any records had little success.
It was also recently revealed the company somehow inadvertently transferred Bitcoins valued at almost half-a-million dollars into cold storage in early February and now can’t access them.
Co-founder Patryn has been identified by The Globe and Mail as Omar Dhanani who was convicted on identity theft charges in the U.S. and served 18 months in Federal prison. Dhanani also had pleaded guilty to burglary and grand theft charges and had been deported to Canada. Bloomberg also identified Patryn as Dhanani showing that he had officially changed his name from Omar Dhanani to Omar Patryn in British Columbia in March 2003 and changed it again to Michael Patryn in October 2008
Ernst & Young reported on 6 February 2019 that C$468,675 (US$354,300) of bitcoin were “inadvertently” sent to an inaccessible cold wallet.
Recent reports in 2020 indicate that Litecoin funds have been transferred out of the exchange’s wallets. How is this possible if the company has no access to their funds?