If you have had a tough day at work or are struggling to get through the cold, gray, depressing state of affairs that is February, spare a thought for these cryptocurrency customers.
QuadrigaCX, a Canadian-based cryptocurrency exchange company, has had to confess it is unable to repay almost all of the $190 million ($250 million CAD) it owes clients following the sudden death of its 30-year-old CEO and co-founder, Gerald Cotton, in December last year.
Cotton, it has been reported, was the sole person in charge of the funds. Now, his widow Jennifer Robertson says the information required to access a large chunk of that digital goldmine is locked in limbo on his password-protected laptop.
According to court documents obtained by crypto news site CoinDesk, Robertson said Cotton left no business records, while attempts by a technical expert employed by the firm to bypass the computer's encryption and reach the capital being held in "cold storage" have so far failed.
"Quadriga's inventory of cryptocurrency has become unavailable and some of it may be lost," Robertson said.
Which means the 115,000 or so users with balances in cryptocurrency and/or fiat money on their account may be unable to collect the cash they are owed. It is not a particularly good start to February.
It is also not the first time QuadrigaCX has been in hot water, legally speaking. The company has been facing liquidity issues since January 2018, when the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce froze $26 million worth of assets following certain irregularities with payment processing.
The matter has been resolved but it has left “ongoing issues”, CoinDesk reports.
Now, Cotton's death is throwing up another set of problems. Robertson announced the news of her husband's passing on social media via the company’s Facebook page on January 14, writing.
"Gerry died due to complications with Crohn's disease on December 9, 2018 while traveling in India, where he was opening an orphanage to provide a home and safe refuge for children in need."
According to CoinDesk, the company is considering selling off its operating platform. In the meantime, it is due to appear in court in Nova Scotia, Canada, today (February, 5).