Investors in a Canadian crypto-currency exchange are in a similar fix after the only person with the password to accounts valued at $190 million in US dollars died unexpectedly in India in December, CoinDesk reported.
Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX owes its customers about $190 (249 million Canadian dollars).
QuadrigaCX's founder Gerald Cotten, 30, died "due to complications with Crohn's disease" while travelling in India to open an orphanage in December, his wife Jennifer Robertson said.
What was the password again?
While Robertson has Cotten's laptop, it's encrypted and she does not have a password or recovery key.
The founder held "sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins" and no other members of the team could access the stored funds, she added.
Some Reddit sleuths and cryptocurrency researchers have looked into QuadrigaCX's holdings and found activity from accounts only Cotten had access to after the company said he died.
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"Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere", she said.
In a statement posted online last Thursday, Quadriga said it is working to address its "liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallet". The company's stance has gone from "Quadriga's inventory of cryptocurrency has become unavailable and some of it may be lost" to "most, if not all" of their customers will suffer damages.
"This is a tough lesson learned".
Robertson said in her affidavit she has received online threats and "slanderous comments", including questions about the nature of Cotten's death, and whether he is really dead.
Robertson said that the exchange's new directors voted to "temporarily pause" the platform on January 26.
Robertson's affidavit notes that a copy of Cotten's death certificate was submitted to the court, with the J.A. Snow Funeral Home stating that he died on December 9, 2018, in Jaipur, India.
The next legal step for the company is expected Tuesday, when it will ask the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to appoint Ernst & Young to monitor its debt proceedings as an independent third party. Robertson said the many types of deposits made it hard for the company to stop the inflow of money - even as it lost its ability to access or disburse funds.