'It's a mess': Quadriga CEO's death a wake-up call for cryptocurrency industry, says tech writer

Gerald Cotten, CEO of the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX, died suddenly in India in December. His company's passwords seem to have been lost with him, leaving investors wondering if they've lost an estimated $250 million, amid calls for greater regulation of the cryptocurrency industry.

QuadrigaCX case could be chance for cryptocurrency industry to grow, says Takara Small

According to court documents, Gerald Cotten, chief executive officer of QuadrigaCX, died Dec. 9 in India due to complications from Crohn's disease. Now, the company he founded is embroiled in legal and financial struggles. (Gerry Cotten memorial/Facebook)
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The death of a Canadian cryptocurrency company's CEO — which has left investors wondering if they've lost an estimated $250 million — has all the aspects of a fictional movie, according to a technology writer.

Takara Small thinks it's unlikely that Cotten is "living the high life on like a deserted island. (Submitted by Takara Small)

"He died overseas, [and] he was the only individual who had the passwords to actually access the cold wallet, which is where this large sum of money is," said Takara Small, host of the Globe and Mail tech podcast I'll Go First.

"The company is now, you know, filing for creditor protection, his widow has no idea how to access the funds — it's a mess," she told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"You would watch on TV and say: 'Okay, this is not real, let's bring it to reality."

Gerald Cotten, CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX, died suddenly in India in December. His company's passwords — virtual keys to millions of dollars — seem to have been lost with him, and the company has now filed for creditor protection.

Investors are now wondering if they've lost an estimated $250 million.

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."

She doesn't think investors will be able to recover the full amount of what they've lost, but said the case could lead to improvements in the cryptocurrency industry.

You would watch on TV and say: 'Okay, this is not real, let's bring it to reality.'- Takara  Small

"When situations like this happen, it forces an industry or space to ... grow and change, and this will hopefully, ideally do that," she said.

"I don't think someone should write off the entire cryptocurrency as something to avoid ... but these are some of the consequences, these are some of the things that can happen when you invest in such a young digital currency."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Produced by Alison Masemann and Ines Colabrese.

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