Crypto Exchange Says It Can’t Repay $190 Million to Clients After Founder Dies With Only Password

A metal token representing a bitcoin. File photo.Photo: Rick Bowmer (AP)Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX says it cannot repay most of $190 million in client holdings after its 30-year-old founder Gerald Cotten, the only person who knew the passwords to its “cold storage,” unexpectedly died in India in December 2018, Coindesk reported on Friday.In a sworn affidavit with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, widow Jennifer Robertson said that QuadrigaCX owes its customers some $190 million in both cryptocurrency and fiat money. QuadrigaCX has filed for creditor protection because it says it cannot access the funds stored in “cold storage,” just the comparatively smaller amount in a “hot wallet” used for transfers, CoinDesk wrote:The exchange holds roughly 26,500 bitcoin ($92.3 million USD), 11,000 bitcoin cash ($1.3 million), 11,000 bitcoin cash SV ($707,000), 35,000 bitcoin gold ($352,000), nearly 200,000 litecoin ($6.5 million) and about 430,000 ether ($46 million), totaling $147 million, according to the affidavit.It was not clear what portion of the exchange’s crypto holding were kept in cold storage, versus its hot wallet. In the affidavit, Robertson explained that “only a minimal amount of coins” were stored in the hot wallet, but specifics were not provided.Robertson also said that Cotten held “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins” and no other members of the team could access the stored funds. QuadrigaCX announced Cotten’s death in mid-January, saying he had died “due to complications with Crohn’s disease on December 9, 2018 while travelling in India, where he was opening an orphanage to provide a home and safe refuge for children in need.”While Robertson has Cotten’s laptop in her possession, CoinDesk wrote, she says she does not know the password, and a technical expert recruited by the firm has been unable to bypass its encryption. She also says Cotten left behind no business
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