Nova Scotia

Settlement allows QuadrigaCX founder's widow to keep $90K in cash, wedding ring, Jeep

Jennifer Robertson, the widow of QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotten, has reached a settlement agreement with the company's bankruptcy trustee.

Jennifer Robertson reaches settlement agreement with bankruptcy trustee

Gerald Cotten, founder of QuadrigaCX, died suddenly in January during his honeymoon trip to India. (QuadrigaCX/Facebook)

Jennifer Robertson, the widow of QuadrigaCX founder Gerald (Gerry) Cotten, will be allowed to keep more than $90,000 cash and a Jeep Cherokee in a settlement agreement with the company's bankruptcy trustee.

That's after surrendering assets of approximately $12 million her late husband drained from Quadriga's accounts.

The online Canadian cryptocurrency exchange collapsed in January after Cotten died suddenly from complications of Crohn's disease on his honeymoon trip to India.

A total of 76,319 unsecured creditors — virtually all of them QuadrigaCX clients — have come forward to claim they are owed $214.6 million.

Cotten died with sole knowledge of passwords used to encrypt "cold wallets" — offline storage devices — of various cryptocurrencies.

These properties that were owned by Jennifer Robertson are located on McQuillan Lane in Bedford, N.S. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

A forensic investigation revealed those wallets were empty, and that Cotten used aliases to transfer clients' funds into his own accounts.

Robertson said she had no knowledge of Cotten's illicit activities.

The settlement details come from court documents posted on the website of Ernst & Young, the bankruptcy trustee for Quadriga. 

Robertson has agreed to surrender everything she inherited from Cotten's estate, plus money and assets he transferred to her while he was alive.

'The companies were controlled by Gerry'

"Gerry and I did not act as arm's-length parties with the companies while they were operating, and the companies were controlled by Gerry prior to his death," Robertson said in an affidavit attached to the agreement.

Robertson said all asset transfers from Quadriga to her or her companies happened in the five years before the company collapsed.

"I met Gerry in November 2014 and at that time I understood that Quadriga was a relatively small company and Gerry did not have a significant amount of assets at that time," she said.

Robertson said neither she nor Cotten paid for anything they received. 

"It is my belief … that Gerry … did not provide Quadriga with any consideration for the property transferred other than possibly on account of compensation for his role as chief executive officer," Robertson said. 

By surrendering her assets and inheritance from Cotten, Robertson will lose control of $7.5 million of properties purchased in Nova Scotia since 2016.

Total value of assets, estate is $12M

A trustee's report submitted to the court on Monday estimates the total value of Robertson's assets plus Cotten's estate at $12 million.

According to the settlement agreement, Robertson will be allowed to keep: 

  • $90,000 cash, plus her $20,000 RRSP and up to $10,000 from a bank account.
  • A 2015 Jeep Cherokee with an estimated value of $19,000.
  • A wedding band, memory pendant and gold ring with a pink stone. The items have an estimated value of $8,700.
  • Furniture and other personal belongings in her home up to a value of $15,000.
  • Shares in Quadriga Fintech, unless she's ordered to surrender them in the future by the bankruptcy trustee.

In a personal statement released Monday by her lawyer, Robertson said she was shocked to discover her late husband's financial wrongdoing. 

"I was upset and disappointed with Gerry's activities as uncovered by the investigation when I first learned of them, and continue to be as we conclude this settlement," Robertson said.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.