Lawyers for clients of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX have asked police to exhume the body of its founder, whose sudden death last year trapped millions of dollars in digital currencies in its accounts, to confirm they are indeed those of Gerald Cotten.
Gerald Cotten died in December 2018 while traveling to India due to complications from Crohn's disease. Cotten's death has been under suspicion since it was announced, with some circulating a conspiracy theory that the CEO may have faked his own death.
Cotten's widow, Jennifer Robertson, wrote that he died of complications from Crohn's disease, which is rarely fatal. However, a death certificate obtained by CoinDesk from the Indian hospital where Cotten reportedly died in misspelled his name.
To confirm both its identity and the cause of death given the questionable circumstances surrounding Mr. Cotten’s death"
The 30-year-old was the only person with access to passwords for the digital wallets holding some $137m.
In the wake of his death, QuadrigaCX, which had about 115,000 users, was unable to locate or secure a significant amount of cryptocurrency reserves.
Now, lawyers representing users of the platform wrote a letter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police requesting an autopsy to confirm Cotten's identity and cause of death "given the questionable circumstances" surrounding his death.
Cotten's widow, Jennifer Robertson, has said in her affidavit she has received online threats and "slanderous comments," including questions about the nature of Cotten's death, and whether he is really dead.
"The purpose of this letter is to request, on behalf of the Affected Users, that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the "RCMP"), conduct an exhumation and post-mortem autopsy on the body of Gerald Cotten to confirm both its identity and the cause of death given the questionable circumstances surrounding Mr. Cotten's death and the significant losses of Affected Users," reads a Dec. 13 letter posted on lawyer Miller Thomson's website.
Following Cotten's death, Quadriga CX was forced to close and applied for creditor protection with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. The company said it had "worked extensively to address our liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets."
Auditors Ernst & Young found in May the exchange's crypto wallets were empty, with most of the crypto holdings transferred to other exchanges and wallets. Auditors have recouped about $25 million, according to The Telegraph. But nearly all of that money was cash.
Substantial amounts of money had been transferred to Cotten's personal holdings, the auditors found. Cotten appears to have overstated the company's revenue, and reportedly created fake accounts and used them to trade counterfeit bitcoin for real cash and cryptocurrency, according to the audit. It appears Cotten has kept no records since 2016, according to The Washington Post.
Quadriga CX was believed to be one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Canada before its collapse.