Today, February 5, 2019, a court in Nova Scotia, Canada, granted bankruptcy protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) to the embattled Vancouver-based cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX. The court appointed Ernst & Young as monitors to help the exchange locate any funds it could use to reimburse users and ordered a 30-day stay of proceedings.
The exchange initially made the news on January 14, 2019, when the company announced its CEO Gerald Cotten had died in India on December 9, 2018, from complications from Crohn’s disease. News website CoinDesk obtained what appears to be a copy from the Indian government of Gerald Cotten’s death certificate, although his name is misspelled.
On January 31, 2019, the exchange went offline posting a statement that they had filed for creditor protection.
More than a month after Cotten’s death, the exchange announced that he had the only access to the exchange’s cold storage, effectively locking up the exchange’s funds in offline wallets that, allegedly, no one else at the company has access to. Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, has reportedly hired a security expert to hack into the computer.
In its petition to the Nova Scotia court, QuadrigaCX claimed they didn’t have access to wallets containing $137 million USD in cryptocurrency owned by an estimated 115,000 users. The affidavit claims that QuadrigaCX has 363,000 registered users and owes approximately $190 million USD. Court documents show that one user alone had a balance of approximately $70 million CDN ($53 million USD).
Professional services firm Ernst & Young said they would focus on finding out whether there are any reserves in cold storage and, if there are, how to access them.
In court today, the lawyers for QuadrigaCX said they are considering selling the exchange to pay off funds that are owed. Maurice Chiasson, a lawyer representing QuadrigaCX, has said that, currently, there are several payment processors that hold funds from the exchange.
A number of affected users have retained lawyers and formed class actions to seek restitution. Attorneys for the applicants now have five days to serve the 115,000 customers owed funds with notice of the order.