Adam O’Brien, a friend and former colleague of deceased QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotten, told Canadian media outlet Global News this week that Cotten talked casually about being kidnapped for the vast fortune he controlled:
“Gerry was holding, we know, over $100 million, almost $200 million dollars in funds…That makes people do some pretty crazy things. And I think Gerry was aware of that, and I think he was kind of worried that something might happen.”
His death has snowballed into a major financial disaster for Quadriga customers who still had money on the exchange as repercussions of Cotten’s death unfolded.
Though Cotten died December 8th, customers were not informed of his passing for more than a month.
The exchange also continued to accept funds and allow trading for an additional five weeks, despite the fact that Cotten appeared to have died without ensuring anyone else had access to $250 million CAD ($190 million USD) of the exchange’s funds.
Quadriga CX has now entered into bankruptcy, and numerous lawyers, investigators and accountants involved in the case have been unable to unearth passwords Cotten used to access Quadriga CX’s “cold wallets” (offline crypto storage devices).
Harmed investors are now reportedly waiting for the opportunity to sue the exchange for lost funds, and Cotten’s widow has been ordered not to dispose of assets.
Conspiracy theories have abounded online regarding the possibility that Gerald Cotten staged his death and stole the funds.
But O’Brian defended his friend:
“Gerry was a great dude and everyone you’d speak to that knew him personally would tell you that. He was a really, really genuine guy that was super smart.”
O’Brian, however, was not optimistic about the likelihood that the funds will be recovered:
“I don’t think people are going to see that money again. And the reason I don’t is because the way bitcoin is designed is that once the private key is gone, there’s no recovery.”
He did, however, leave open the possibility that Cotten may have set up a so-called “dead-man’s-switch,” a type of smart contract that might automatically release the funds to a third party if Gerald Cotten failed to communicate with it (log in, for example) for long enough.