Customers of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange are reportedly unable to access $190 million of funds after the company’s founder died with the passwords needed to access the money.
Gerald Cotten, the 30-year-old founder of QuadrigaCX, died due to complications with Crohn’s disease, according to Sky News, citing Cotten’s wife, Jennifer Robertson. The executive reportedly passed away in December while traveling in India to open an orphanage.
Citing a sworn affidavit by Robertson as she filed for credit protection, Sky News reports that Cotten held “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins.”
About $190 million in cryptocurrency and traditional money is said to be in “cold storage,” with the digital key held by Cotten. While Robertson has Cotten’s laptop, she does not know its password and even a security expert has been unable to get past the device’s encryption.
Some QuadrigaCX customers have taken to social media to voice their frustration over the deadlock.
In a statement posted on its website on Jan. 31, QuadrigaCX said that it applied for creditor protection in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court “to allow us the opportunity to address the significant financial issues that have affected our ability to serve our customers.”
“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 company added, in its statement. “Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”