A bitcoin multimillionaire was last year reported to have died on his honeymoon in India months before auditors discovered $128million he had stored in digital vaults had vanished.
But a new report claims he is secretly living off an embezzled fortune.
Gerald Cotten, 30, was the CEO of QuadricaCX, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Canada which defaulted last year following his death while abroad with his wife Jennifer Robertson.
Ernst and Young auditors were to discover that the millions which had been stored on external hard-drives, known as cold wallets, had been emptied before his death.
Cotten’s will was written four days before his death on December 9, 2018. It detailed $12million in real estate, a Lexus, a Cessna plane and his yacht, the Gulliver.
The former chairman and managing director of the Rajasthan hospital which misspelled his name on his death certificate was convicted of financial fraud two months before Cotten’s death, according to Vanity Fair.
Gerald Cotten, 30, was the CEO of QuadricaCX, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Canada which defaulted last year following his death (pictured: with his wife Jennifer Robertson at the Taj Mahal)
Cotten’s will did not mention the cold wallets. These are hard drives, not connected to the internet, which stored cryptocurrency of his 75,000 clients and for which only he had the password.
The password, a long, virtually impossible to remember, set of random numbers and letters, was kept inside a safe bolted to the rafters of his attic.
EY, tasked by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court with accessing the cold wallets, has said it has no idea where the missing currency has gone.
Investigators found the wallets were commonly used to store Bitcoin starting in April 2014, but in April 2018 all but one of them were abruptly emptied and left dormant.
The final wallet was still used to transfer currency until December 3, six days before Cotten died, before it was also left empty.
Various theories have emerged about Cotten, the most compelling perhaps, claims that he is alive and living off the millions that went missing.
The official narrative surrounding his death said that Cotten fell ill shortly after he and Robertson checked into the Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur on December 8.
He was ferried to a private hospital and told he had acute gastroenteritis. Cotten, who had Chron’s disease, died the next day.
Blood tests showed he had died of septic shock just over 24 hours after he first complained of stomachache.
The official cause of death was ‘complications from Crohn’s disease.’
His corpse was sent back to the Oberoi and then sent to be embalmed. But the embalmer refused to work on the body and went back to the hotel before being taken to a local hospital.
Robertson then traveled back to Canada with the body.
They had been planning on visiting an orphanage, the Jennifer Robertson and Gerald Cotten Home for Orphaned Children, which they had donated £16,000 to help set up.
The former chairman and managing director of the hospital which misspelled his name on his death certificate was convicted of financial fraud two months before Cotten’s death
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI have refused to comment, but one witness they hauled in, told Vanity Fair: ‘They asked me about 20 times if he was alive … They always end our conversations with that question.’
His body has not been exhumed by the RCMP, who has ultimate jurisdiction in the case.
According to Vanity Fair, one man who searched his home said when he looked in the attic, there were four holes left where the safe had been.
Cotten, who boasted of having traveled to more than 50 countries, would have had ample time to stash funds away in foreign accounts.
Cotten’s will was written four days before his death on December 9, 2018. It detailed $12million in real estate, a Lexus, a Cessna plane and his yacht, the Gulliver
Eric Schletz, the pilot who brokered Cotten’s purchase of the Cessna 400, spoke of how he once saw Cotten walking through the airport with $50,000 in cash.
Cotten had also bragged that he had never been searched by customs in any country.
The furious trades towards the end of his life, believed by some to show his incompetence and recklessness, was part of his ruse, which Vanity Fair calls ‘The Mastermind Theory.’
‘The plan, from the beginning, would be to keep the con going as long as possible before vanishing with the money,’ the magazine says.
‘If the Mastermind Theory seems far-fetched, it’s worth pointing out that an exit scam can only succeed if it seems far-fetched … Gerry the Mastermind might think he will get away with it. And he will – as long as everyone else believes he hasn’t.’
Last month, his widow, Robertson, forfeited the £7million in real estate she had been left in the Quadriga bankruptcy case.
She said in a statement she was not aware of her husband’s ‘improper’ business dealings and also spoke of being ‘upset and disappointed’ by them.
Robertson said she wanted to ‘move on with the next chapter of my life.’
One former Quadrica customer is now offering a reward of $100,000 for any information about where the exchange’s currency reserves have gone.