They say you can’t take it with you, but the CEO of Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX apparently did.
When QuadrigaCX founder and owner Gerald Cotton died unexpectedly in December of complications from Crohn’s Disease, the password to $190 million worth of crypto-currency died with him, according to Fortune.
The funds are effectively as frozen as a corpse in the morgue. His widow, Jennifer Robertson, has signed a sworn affidavit detailing that the bitcoins and related products were stored in a special server to protect them from hacking and theft. This, and Cotton’s laptop, are so heavily encrypted that not even master hackers have been able to crack it so far.
Since Cotton was the sole person responsible for handling the funds and coins, in the name of safety only he had the password to it all, his wife said.
“Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere,” she said in the affidavit, according to Fortune. “Quadriga’s inventory of cryptocurrency has become unavailable and some of it may be lost.”
In fact, some conspiracy theorists are suggesting he very literally took it with him, faking his own death and absconding with their funds. He reportedly died in India in December, Coindesk.com reported.
QuadrigaCX didn’t even announce Cotten’s death until mid-January, more than a month after it occurred, Coindesk reported. This has customers who were already questioning the financially troubled company even more suspicious.
“The fact that it happened a month ago, and they just announced it now, and no proof of death, no obituary, no Linkedin profiles of any of the staff, no physical addresses, limited crypto withdrawal limits, etc. all makes people suspicious,” investor Xitong Zou told Coindesk. “There’s a bunch of warning bells going off in most people’s heads right now.”