Skepticism Around QuadrigaCX CEO Death Spurs Call for Exhumation

Legal counsel for users of the defunct crypto exchange wants to determine whether Gerald Cotten really died.

The bizarre details surrounding the alleged death of the CEO of defunct cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX Gerald Cotten and the $163 million that he allegedly took with him to the grave are becoming even stranger.

Indeed, growing skepticism as to whether the 30-year-old Cotten really passed away during his honeymoon in India last year has caused lawyers representing jilted QuadrigaCX customers to request that Cotten’s body be exhumed, according to reports from the BBC and Bloomberg late last week.

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Indeed, Toronto-based law firm Miller Thomson LLP has sent a letter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police requesting that they “conduct an exhumation and post-mortem autopsy on the body of Gerald Cotten to confirm both its identity and the cause of death given the questionable circumstances,” as well as the losses by QuadgridaCX users.

The letter also reportedly requested that the exhumation be completed by spring of 2020 “given decomposition concerns.”

Cotten’s death was reported as a tragedy, but some believe the tale could be a farce

As grim and outlandish as the request may seem at first glance, the narrative that Cotten never actually died has been embraced–or at least considered–by a seemingly growing faction of the cryptosphere and the general public; some individuals have devoted a considerable amount of time to exploring the case.

Indeed, the story that was originally offered surrounding Cotten’s death was one of an untimely tragedy and an unfortunate lack of a backup plan: Cotten, who allegedly had Crohn’s disease, met a sudden end while honeymooning in Jaipur; the passwords and private keys that controlled the exchange’s funds were allegedly lost along with Cotten’s life.

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However, a November report by Vanity Fair said that “the most effective and thorough investigation to date,” which has been “conducted by anonymous accounts posting on Twitter, Reddit, Pastebin, and Telegram,” has painted a different portrait of what happened.

“Their findings, though baroquely technical, could be distilled to a two-word conclusion: Gerry’s alive,” the publication said.

Skepticism around the details of Cotten’s death began as soon as the story was reported

Indeed, many have pointed out that Cotten may have had good reason to want to disappear: details about the insolvency of the exchange and Cotten’s misappropriation of QuadrigaCX users’ funds seem to have provided a sufficient motive for a falsified death.

For example, multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young, which was hired to audit the exchange following Cotten’s alleged death, published a report in June saying that “significant volumes of Cryptocurrency were transferred off Platform outside Quadriga to competitor exchanges into personal accounts controlled by Mr. Cotten.

“It appears that User Cryptocurrency was traded on these exchanges and in some circumstances used as security for a margin trading account established by Mr. Cotten,” the report said, adding that the trades “appear to have adversely affected Quadriga’s cryptocurrency reserves.”

However, skepticism surrounding Cotten’s death emerged long before any of the details about misdeeds at the exchange did. Shortly after news of the death and the disappearance of the private keys, Jesse Powell, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, called the tale “bizarre and, frankly, unbelievable.”

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