Dead CEO with $145 mn worth passwords left a will in wife's name

Indo Asian News Service

Toronto, Feb 7 (IANS) Canadian entrepreneur Gerald Cotten who died in a hospital in India and left thousands of his investors in a quandary reportedly signed his last will and testament just days before his death.

According to a report in newsbtc.com late Wednesday, the beneficiary of Cotten's estate is named in the document as his wife, Jennifer Robertson.

"She stands to inherit properties, high-end vehicles, and a pair of pet chihuahuas but claims to have no clue where information relating to Quadriga's cold-storage solution could be," said the report.

Robertson, however, said in the affidavit posted online that the laptop that Cotten used to run the currency exchange is encrypted.

"I do not know the password or recovery key. Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere," she said.

Cotten was the owner of Canada's biggest cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga.

Cotten, who died in a Jaipur hospital in December, has plunged Quadriga into a crisis and left it struggling to figure out how to refund more than 100,000 of its users as only he had access to $145 million of bitcoin and other digital assets.

With his death, the passwords that can unlock the cryptocurrencies are now gone as his laptop and smartphone are highly encrypted.

"Many of the digital currencies held by Quadriga are stored offline in accounts known as 'cold wallets', a way of protecting them from hackers and Cotten is the only person with access to the wallets, according to the company," CNN reported.

Cotten, 30, died due to complications with Crohn's disease while travelling in India.

"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. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful," Quadriga said in a statement on its website.

The company has hired an investigator to see if any information could be retrieved but ongoing efforts have had only "limited success in recovering a few coins" and some information from Cotten's computer and phone.

Some customers who are out of pocket are now pursuing their own legal action against the exchange.

"Those affected by the loss of cold storage access have reportedly formed a committee and are seeking the guidance of law firm Bennett Jones LLP and McInnes Cooper with their legal representation," said the newsbtc.com report.

--IANS

na/bg