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Cryptocurrency tycoon died leaving $145m in limbo. Now lawyers seek exhumation to check it’s really him

Lawyers representing users of the collapsed Quadriga CX cryptocurrency exchange platform are requesting that Canadian authorities exhume and examine the body of its late founder, Gerald Cotten, to check if the person buried there is really him.

Cotten, co-founder and CEO of Quadriga, died of complications in December 2018 arising from Crohn’s Disease while traveling in India, the company said on Facebook. At the time, Quadriga — once Canada’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange — said it was unable to gain access to his digital assets. At least $145 million were left frozen in Cotten’s account.

Cotten’s death plunged Quadriga into crisis and left it struggling to figure out how to refund more than 100,000 users of the currency. In April, Quadriga announced that the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia had issued a Termination and Bankruptcy Assignment Order outlining the process by which the Quadriga CCAA proceedings would be converted to bankruptcy proceedings.

Miller Thompson LLP wrote to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Friday requesting an exhumation and post-mortem autopsy on Cotten’s body “to confirm both its identity and the cause of death given the questionable circumstances surrounding Mr. Cotten’s death and the significant losses of Affected Users.” The company confirmed to CNN the letter was genuine.

Many of the digital currencies held by Quadriga are stored offline in accounts known as “cold wallets,” a way of protecting them from hackers. Cotten was the only person with access to the wallets, according to the company.

In the letter dated Friday, lawyers outlined “the need for certainty around the question of whether Mr. Cotten is, in fact, deceased.”

CNN is attempting to contact the Canadian authorities for response.

The Nova Scotia court appointed financial services firm Ernst & Young as an independent monitor to oversee Quadriga’s efforts to resolve its financial problems. In a report released in June, the auditor found significant problems with how Quadriga was managed.

CNN