February 21, 2019 9:55 am
Updated: February 22, 2019 1:42 am

Cryptocurrency mystery stuns Kelowna neighbourhood where dead CEO owned home

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With thousands of investors looking to recover an estimated $260 million from insolvent Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX, it’s no surprise at least one may have hired a private investigator.

“Three weeks ago I was coming home from work and I saw a guy taking pictures of this house that I live by,” a Kelowna man, who asked to remain anonymous, told Global News.

A Kelowna home owned by Gerald Cotten, the CEO of QuadrigaCX who died in December.

Doris Maria Bregolisse/ Global Okanagan

The man lives across the street from a five-bedroom home that was identified as an asset in the will of Gerald Cotten, the deceased CEO of QuadrigaCX.

The document was drawn up on Nov. 27, 2018.

Gerald Cotten was the CEO of QuadrigaCX, courtesy: Facebook.

Cotten died from complications due to Crohn’s disease in India on Dec. 9, according to court documents.

READ MORE: Researchers find little trace of Quadriga’s stuck millions on the blockchain

Access to millions in cryptocurrency were lost when he died, according to court filings.

The 30-year-old Canadian man was apparently the only person who had the encrypted passcodes to offline digital wallets on his laptop.

His Kelowna neighbour said a woman who matched descriptions of Jennifer Robertson, Cotten’s wife, visited the home with two small dogs last Christmas.

BC Assessment lists the partial city-view house on Kelowna’s south slopes as having been purchased for $1.18 million in June 2017.

“The private investigator knew all about [Cotton’s death] and knew all about her,” the neighbour said. “I did a little bit of research and it turns out to be quite a crazy thing.”

READ MORE: Late Quadriga CEO’s laptop may hold key to accessing $180M in missing cryptocurrency

Another neighbour was stunned to find out that Cotten owned the house next door.

“That’s crazy. I didn’t know that,” said Bruce Campbell, a Kelowna investment fund manager, who said he was aware of the legal troubles surrounding QuadrigaCX and Cotten’s death.

The Campbells told Global News they saw their neighbours and two chihuahuas for the first time in December 2017 and that they stayed in the 3,200-sq.-ft., five-bedroom, three-bathroom home for a week.

Cotten’s last will included a trust for the couple’s pet chihauhuas, Nitro and Gully, in the event that Robertson died within a month after his death.

“I said, ‘Hey. Need a hand?'” Campbell recalled of meeting the couple at the house when their rental car became stuck on the steep and snowy driveway.

Campbell said he also saw the same woman at the home with the two chihauhaus this past Christmas, just weeks after Cotten would have died.

READ MORE: How crypto exchange QuadrigaCX lost access to $190 million of customers’ money

“She was literally in the driveway and I waved. That was it,” Campbell said.

QuadrigaCX did not reveal Cotten’s death to the public until January.

And while Campbell said no one else has visited the home since it changed hands in 2017, “every single light in the house” was on for months on end until recently, he added.

The driveway is covered with snow but there are tire tracks underneath.

All the blinds are drawn and only the outdoor lights were on Wednesday night.

READ MORE: Law firms selected to represent users owed millions from QuadrigaCX platform

Besides the large Kelowna home, Cotten’s will listed numerous other homes in Nova Scotia, along with two cars, an airplane and a sailboat.

Robertson was left the bulk of Cotten’s estate, “including all digital assets” as well as his frequent flyer points and patronage reward points.

On Wednesday, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge selected two law firms to represent QuadrigaCX clients in court proceedings.

Cryptocurrency exchanges are not regulated in Canada.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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