Before his death made headlines worldwide, Gerald Cotten had just been a 30-year-old guy working in digital finance. And when Cotten, the founder of QuadrigaCX, which now owes more than $260 million in cash and cryptocurrency to thousands of people, first turned his focus to Bitcoin, he found there weren’t many ways to buy the cryptocurrency in Canada.
“If you recall, back in the summer of 2013, there really weren’t many options here in Canada for people to buy and sell bitcoins,” Cotten said during a 2015 interview on Decentral Talk Live, an online show about cryptocurrency. A clip of the interview still exists on YouTube.
“There was one exchange that was pretty much leading the pack,” Cotten said. “And then, other than that, you pretty much had to send a wire over to Japan, if you wanted to buy Bitcoin.”
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Wearing a grey T-shirt, jeans and glasses, and with a smartphone to his right, Cotten told his interviewers that one of the hurdles was that it was just hard to buy Bitcoin in Canada.
“You couldn’t hook up your bank account anywhere, it was just such a challenge,” he said, with a smile sometimes spreading across his face during the interview.
This was an area of expertise for Cotten, who said he had already set up some elements in terms of banking and payment processing.
“So really, it was just a matter of setting up an exchange, and then integrating that with everything that I had previously built up in that sort of industry,” he said.
Four months of work later, Quadriga launched on Boxing Day 2013. Users began to flock to the site.
According to a November 2015 financial filing, Quadriga estimated at that point it was processing between 60 to 90 per cent of the volume of digital currency exchange transactions in Canada.
“Because there were so few options in Canada, we ended up getting a lot of clients right away,” the then-26-year-old Cotten said.
The popularity of Quadriga’s cryptocurrency exchange is now a burden on the company, which has been forced into creditor protection in the wake of Cotten’s death in India in December.
According to court documents, there are 92,000 or so users to which Quadriga owes more than $260 million in cash and cryptocurrency.
Cotten had been responsible for handling funds for Quadriga, and the CEO left behind a password-protected laptop and USB key that no one has been able to crack. The situation has raised a lot of questions, including about Cotten himself.
Christine Duhaime, a Canadian lawyer and certified financial crime and anti-money-laundering specialist, worked with Quadriga in 2015 as the company was trying to launch Canada’s first research and development lab for the blockchain.
“Looking back, I don’t know that anybody knew anything about the inside of Quadriga,” said Duhaime. “When I read that affidavit (from Jennifer Robertson, Cotten’s widow), I was like: ‘Oh, he was in Nova Scotia? I thought he was in Toronto.’”
There’s also Cotten’s will, filed 12 days before his death, which reportedly lists his assets, such as properties in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, a Lexus, an airplane and a boat. Speculation has even arisen about whether or not the CEO did actually die.
“There has been a significant amount of commentary on Reddit and other web-based platforms about the state of Quadriga, Gerry’s death (including whether he is really dead) and missing coins,” Robertson said in an affidavit.
What we do know about Cotten, through court documents, public securities filings and people who knew him, is that he was a nice guy who became interested in digital money at a young age.
Gerald William Cotten was born on May 11, 1988.
He started building his expertise in digital finance in his teens and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 2010 from York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.
“Mr. Cotten has been involved with digital payments and digital forms of currency and transfers of electronic value for over 10 years and began his career in this area at a young age,” a November 2015 prospectus for Quadriga’s parent company said. “He has spoken at financial technology conferences and is an advisor for an international consortium that certifies C4 (the CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium).”
According to an earlier prospectus, that same crypto-consortium had certified Cotten as a Bitcoin professional. The designation, the consortium says, means a person is “knowledgeable about the Bitcoin blockchain, Bitcoin transactions, and how the Bitcoin network operates.”
“CBPs (Certified Bitcoin Professionals) are able to apply Bitcoin technology to their professional area of expertise and understand privacy aspects, double-spending, and other issues that relate to the currency,” the consortium says.
Certified Bitcoin Professionals are able to apply Bitcoin technology to their professional area of expertise and understand privacy aspects, double-spending, and other issues that relate to the currency
CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium
Source : https://lfpress.com/technology/blockchain/how-gerald-cotten-built-quadriga-and-created-the-ensuing-crypto-storm/wcm/61d3481b-a02c-4d1b-a073-8d6524654e56