Last month, Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX shuttered operations and filed an affadavit with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court saying it owed its customers nearly nearly $200 million USD. Why?
The exchange’s owner, Gerald Cotten, had allegedly died as a result of complications from Crohn’s Disease, and, per Cotten’s wife Jennifer Robertson and Quadriga’s remaining leadership, took control of the platform’s cryptocurrency wallets to the grave.
Kraken is giving up to $100,000 USD (fiat or crypto) as a reward for the tip(s) that best lead to the discovery of the missing $190 million US dollars. Can you help us unravel the Curious Case of Cotton's Coins?https://t.co/BurmEMKVku
— Kraken Exchange (@krakenfx) February 28, 2019
Kraken announced the reward offer in a February 28th email to its users, saying it would forward tips “on to the RCMP, FBI, and other interested law enforcement agencies.” The exchange cast the campaign as part of its “mission is to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrency so that the world can benefit from greater financial freedom and inclusion,” adding that the “circumstances surrounding this case are too suspicious to be believed.”
As Quadriga’s gone dark, large amounts of users’ cryptocurrency holdings have been thrown into limbo. More than 26,000 bitcoin and 430,000 ether are thought to have been under Cotten’s control at the time of his disappearance.
Kraken co-founder and CEO Jesse Powell said his exchange was investigating Quadriga’s wallet addresses earlier this month.
We have thousands of wallet addresses known to belong to @QuadrigaCoinEx and are investigating the bizarre and, frankly, unbelievable story of the founder's death and lost keys. I'm not normally calling for subpoenas but if @rcmpgrcpolice are looking in to this, contact @krakenfx
— Jesse Powell (@jespow) February 3, 2019
As such, Kraken’s new bounty offer marks an acceleration of the exchange’s involvement in the Quadriga episode. In its announcement, the exchange said it would exercise discretion on what would qualify as a breakthrough tip
“Kraken is offering up to a $100,000 USD reward for information leading to a significant break in the case or recovery of the missing client funds. It is up to Kraken’s sole discretion which tips warrant a reward, if any. The total of all rewards will not exceed $100,000 USD. Kraken may end this reward program at any point in time.”
One Researcher Has Already Thrown Their Hat Into the Ring
James Edwards, the CEO and editor of research outlet ZeroNoncense, published a piece on Feb. 28th entitled “QuadrigaCX Ethereum Storage Found.”
QuadrigaCX Ethereum Storage Foundhttps://t.co/Dbu0rh48Lq
— librehash (@librehash) February 28, 2019
Therein, Edwards proceeded to make a case that as many as 600,000 ether derived from Quadriga’s operations over the last few years were presently being held on accounts at three other cryptocurrency exchanges, namely Bitfinex, Kraken, and Poloniex.
“This report does not imply that there was any nefarious intent behind the transfers or that these exchanges are in collusion with one another,” Edwards wrote. “Rather to the contrary, this report believes that Jennifer Robertson, the Court Monitor, and all other related individuals at QuadrigaCX were and are unaware of the fact that Gerry Cotten sent these funds to these exchanges.”
In the piece, Edwards pinpointed a web of weaving hot wallet transactions that suggested Cotten had sent massive ETH deposits at various times to said exchanges. The last transactions sent from the identified addresses were sent on Dec. 8th, 2018, one day prior to Cotten’s alleged death on Dec. 9th.
A Reddit post later indicated that Edward’s work had been submitted to Kraken’s bounty program. It’s too early yet to know whether the supplied information will make the cut for the reward or not.
Another Wrinkle: Quadriga Co-Founder Identity Mystery Widens
Michael Patryn was a co-founder of Quadriga. The problem?
“Michael Patryn” appears to be a fake name.
Globe and Mail has found booking photos that clearly show Quadriga cofounder Michael Patryn is in fact convicted felon Omar Dhanani. https://t.co/XWLZfwcY3a
— Amy Castor (@ahcastor) March 1, 2019
New book photos published by The Globe and Mail show that the person known as Patryn is in fact Omar Dhanani, a man who has previously served jail time in America as a result of felony identity theft charges.
It’s a revelation that won’t sit well with those who already find the narrative around Cotten’s death to be sketchy. More twists and turns in the case are undoubtedly in store.