Quadriga Fintech Solutions
Quadriga Fintech Solutions is the owner and operator of QuadrigaCX, which was Canada's largest cryptocurrency exchange until 2019. The company's CEO and founder, Gerald Cotten died unexpectedly in December 2018 and up to 250 million Canadian dollars owed to 115,000 customers cannot be accessed as only he held the passwords. Ernst & Young has been appointed as an independent monitor while Quadriga has been granted temporary legal protection from its creditors under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, a form of bankruptcy.
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 travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia where he founded Quadriga in November 2013.
He owned an airplane and was licensed as a pilot and was working on getting a license to operate helicopters.
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 its then-director Michael 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.
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 lost Ethereum worth US$14 million due to a smart contract error.
Throughout 2018, as Bitcoin prices crashed, customers of the exchange reported delays when attempting to withdraw dollars. C$28 million held by Costodian, a Quadriga payment processor, was frozen by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) in January 2018. CIBC stated that they could not determine the ownership of the money and could not contact Cotten or Quadriga. In November 2018 the case was decided with the accounts going to the court to decide the ownership individually. Neither Costodian or Quadriga could access the funds.
In January 2019 Ernst & Young reported that Quadriga did not have a bank account, but instead used third party payment processors. It apparently had no formal accounting system. The business was run from Cotten's encrypted laptop from Cotten's home in Fall River, Nova Scotia. 
According to Jennifer Robertson, Cotten's widow, he died on December 9, 2018 while traveling in India. She 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 died after several episodes of cardiac arrest. On December 10 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.
Robertson filed an affidavit on behalf of the company which included a "Statement of Death" for Cotten, filed in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 12, 2018. It also stated that Quadriga has 363,000 registered users and a sum of C$250 million is owed to 115,000 affected users.
Cotten's will was signed November 27, 2018, twelve days before he died. It left Robertson as the trustee of a C$9.6-million estate. 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.
On 14 January 2019, Quadriga announced that their CEO, Gerald Cotten, died the month prior from Crohn's disease while doing volunteer work at an orphanage in India. After the exchange was put into maintenance mode for several days in January, they announced on the 31st that they were applying for creditor protection. According to an affidavit by the CEO's widow, approximately 115,000 customers are owed $250 million CAN ($190 million USD), most of which was cryptocurrency held in QuadrigaCX's cold wallet in the laptop that only the deceased CEO had access to. Blockchain analysts have reported that they are unable to find evidence of Quadriga's cold wallets on the blockchain, a public ledger used from cryptocurrencies. Quadriga continued to accept deposits until January 26.
Some Reddit users have suggested that Cotten faked his own death in order to defraud customers through an exit scam. On February 5, 2019, during a CBC News interview, Globe and Mail columnist Takara Small expressed skepticism that Cotten was "living the high life on like a deserted island".
Reporters attending the hearing where Robertson's lawyers were requesting bankruptcy protection republished a photo showing stacks of bank drafts that Cotten had snapped on his kitchen stove.[excessive citations]
Court stay against legal filings
The lawyer representing the company had sought time to find the amount that is owed to the customers. The company filed in the court that it has been considering selling its platforms to cover the debts. On February 5, Halifax judge Michael Wood ordered a "30-day stay that precludes filing of claims against Quadriga", which is a temporary legal protection from its creditors under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, a form of bankruptcy. Meanwhile in order to manage the finances of the company during the process, a third party monitor Ernst & Young has been appointed. . Aaron Matthews is now serving as Director of Operations.
Nicole Munro (2019-02-07). "Nothing sinister about bitcoin company CEO's sudden death, friend says". Halifax Chronicle Herald. Archived from the original on 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
The 30-year-old Nova Scotia native died 'while undergoing treatment at Fortis hospital in Jaipur,' India, states a Jawahar Circle police document. 'According to the chief medical officer of the hospital, Jayant Sharma, it was a sudden death.'
- Shore, Randy (1 February 2019). "Troubled Bitcoin trader QuadrigaCX takes another bizarre turn". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 2019-02-03.
- Ligaya, Armina (4 Feb 2019). "Canada's largest cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga seeks creditor protection". CTV News. BellMedia. Archived from the original on 2019-02-05. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- Zraick, Karen (5 February 2019). "Crypto-Exchange Says It Can't Pay Investors Because Its C.E.O. Died, and He Had the Passwords". New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
- Supreme Court of Nova Scotia (31 January 2019). "Pre-filing report of the proposed monitor" (PDF). p. 12. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
- Castaldo, Joe; Posadzki, Alexandra; Jessica, Leeder; Jones, Lindsay (8 February 2019). "Crypto chaos: From Vancouver to Halifax, tracing the mystery of Quadriga's missing millions". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 8 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
- Hui, Stephen (14 February 2014). "Geek Speak: Gerald Cotton, CEO of Quadriga CX". The Georgia Straight. Archived from the original on 2019-02-02.
Gregory Barber (2019-02-05). "A crypto exchange CEO dies-with the only key to $137 million". Wired magazine. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
On Tuesday, a Halifax judge granted Quadriga a 30-day stay while it searches for the lost crypto, temporarily shielding the company from lawsuits by customers, some of whom reportedly own millions that are now stranded.
- "Details emerging about Gerald Cotten, the young founder of QuadrigaCX". Vancouver Sun. The Canadian Press. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- Butcher, Jared (12 June 2017). "My smart contract just ate $14 million—now what? Re-thinking indemnification for smart contract risks". Lexology. Archived from the original on 2019-02-02.
- Alini, Erica (27 March 2018). "'I just want my money back.' Couple had $100K wire stuck for months after trying to buy Bitcoin". Global News. Archived from the original on 2019-02-02.
- Lee-Young, Joanne (15 April 2018). "Bitcoin investors face long delays cashing out, criticize two B.C. firms". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 2019-02-02.
- "What happens when your bitcoin banker dies?". The Economist. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- Posadzki, Alexandra (9 October 2018). "Vancouver crypto exchange, CIBC clash over frozen accounts". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2018-10-08.
- Posadzki, Alexandra (13 November 2018). "Judge rules with CIBC, grants possession of disputed Quadriga funds to Ontario Superior Court". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2019-01-24.
- Purohit, Dishank (7 February 2019). "Crypto firm CEO with $190 million password did die in Jaipur hospital". Times of India. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
- Bill, Chappell (4 February 2019). "Cryptocurrency Exchange Says It Can't Access $190 Million After CEO Unexpectedly Died". National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2019-02-06. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- @CoinDesk (2019-02-01). "After the founder's death, 'Quadriga's inventory of crypto has become unavailable and some of it may be lost,' his widow told the court. She has his laptop, but it's encrypted and she does not have its password or recovery key" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 2019-02-05. Retrieved 2019-02-06 – via Twitter.
- "Millions in cryptocurrencies frozen in Canada after only person who had password dies in India". The Hindu. 6 February 2019. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
- Alexander, Doug (5 February 2019). "Crypto Exchange Founder Filed Will 12 Days Before He Died". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
- Brend, Yvette (7 February 2019). "Quadriga CEO, whose death ignited a cryptocurrency storm, a kind man with taste for fine things, say friends". CBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
- Alexander, Doug (1 February 2019). "Crypto Exchange Mystery Deepens as Board Seeks Court Protection". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 2019-02-02.
- Posadzki, Alexandra (31 January 2019). "Crypto exchange Quadriga files for creditor protection". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019.
- Williams, Cassie (9 February 2019). "Quadriga mystery deepens with little evidence of cold wallets containing $250M". CBC News. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Vigna, Paul (7 February 2019). "A Crypto-Mystery: Is $136 Million Stuck or Missing?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Telford, Taylor. "After founder's sudden death, cryptocurrency exchange can't access $190 million in holdings". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2019-02-06. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- Pittis, Don (5 February 2019). "Canadian case is another warning about the murky world of cryptocurrency". CBC News. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
Anna Maria Tremonti (2019-02-05). "'It's a mess': Quadriga CEO's death a wake-up call for cryptocurrency industry, says tech writer". CBC News. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
While there are several conspiracy theories around the case, Small thinks it's unlikely that Cotten is "living the high life on like a deserted island."
Anna Maria Tremonti (2019-02-05). "Feb. 5, 2019 episode transcript". The Current. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
And now there's a mad scramble to try to figure out those passwords and a lot of musing over whether Gerald Cotten really is dead. And those ridiculous requirements he just mentioned, well you want to bet more than one cryptocurrency investor would have liked them to be in place today.
- @JackJulian (2019-02-05). "Here's an example of Quadriga's bookkeeping. These are apparently bank drafts" (Tweet). Retrieved 2019-02-06 – via Twitter.
Axel Kannenberg (2019-02-06). "Kein Zugriff auf Cold Storage: Kryptogeldbörse Quadrigacx erhält Gläubigerschutz" [No access to cold storage: Cryptoexchange Quadrigacx receives creditor protection]. Heise online (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-06.
Details aus der Gerichts-Anhörung, die CBC-Reporter Jack Julian schildert, lassen Zweifel aufkommen, dass die Börse wirklich professionell geführt wurde. So soll Quadrigacx zum Beispiel weder ein festes Büro noch eigene Bankkonten gehabt haben. Alle Zahlungsflüsse wurden offenbar über Bezahldienstleister geregelt, bei denen auch noch etliche Millionen kanadischer Dollar festhängen. Auch das von Julian geteilte Bild über die "Buchführung“ der Börse lässt Schlimmes ahnen.
"QuadrigaCX granted creditor protection while it searches for $250M in cryptocurrency". CBC News. 2019-02-05. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
Cotten's encrypted laptop will be given to lawyers acting for the creditors and will be eventually given to a court-appointed monitor.
Tim Bousquet (2019-02-04). "Morning File, Monday, February 4, 2019: QuadrigaCX". Halifax Examiner. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
Exhibit K in the bankruptcy filing: Millions of dollars in bank drafts held by QuadrigaCX Director of Operations Aaron Matthews are stacked on somebody’s stove.
"Krypto-Börse QuadrigaCX versucht, ihren Millionentresor zu entschlüsseln" [QuadrigaCX: Crypto Exchange receives creditor protection]. Der Spiegel. 2019-02-07. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
Das Unternehmen hat zudem weder ein eigenes Büro noch offizielle Bankkonten besessen, sondern seinen Zahlungsverkehr über Dienstleister abgewickelt. Auf Twitter hat ein Reporter des kanadischen TV-Senders "CBC" ein Foto gepostet, das einen Eindruck von der Buchhaltung des Unternehmens gibt: Stapel von Schecks, die auf einem Herd liegen.
- "More than $400,000 in QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency disappears into 'cold wallet'". CBC News. Canadian Press. 12 February 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
- Gerard, David (13 February 2019). "Forget Bitcoin, Try Your Mattress". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 15 February 2019.