A lawyer for a Nova Scotia-based cryptocurrency trading platform struggling to deliver $250-million owed to its users says the company is not the subject of an RCMP investigation.
“We are not aware of any investigation into Quadriga itself,” Richard Niedermayer, a lawyer for the platform, known as QuadrigaCX, told The Globe and Mail on Thursday.
Mr. Niedermayer’s statement contradicts local news reports from earlier this week that said QuadrigaCX was the subject of a criminal investigation involving the RCMP.
Quadriga was contacted by the RCMP’s Toronto-area financial crime division last month. However, the RCMP asked the company to produce documents related to what police referred to as an investigation into a “CRA telemarketing scam.” The Globe has viewed a redacted copy of the request.
Asked earlier this week whether the RCMP is investigating Quadriga’s troubles, Corporal Louise Savard, a spokeswoman for the RCMP, said, “The RCMP is aware of the allegations against QuadrigaCX. We will not be providing any further information.”
Lawyers for Quadriga successfully filed for relief under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on Tuesday in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Justice Michael Wood issued a 30-day stay of proceedings against Quadriga, whose founder and sole director, Gerald Cotten, died during a trip to India in December. The 30-year-old suffered from Crohn’s disease and his death was related to complications from it, according to documents filed in court.
Mr. Cotten’s platform handled millions of dollars in digital currency transactions on behalf of more than 100,000 users. He ran the company mostly from his laptop, usually from his home in Nova Scotia. Quadriga had no office, no corporate bank accounts and no accounting department to speak of. The laptop, along with a memory stick, could hold valuable clues to the location of money belonging to Quadriga users – if only someone could unlock it.
Mr. Cotten was conscious of security and his laptop is encrypted. One tech expert, a retired RCMP specialist, has already tried and failed to hack into it.
Justice Wood’s stay order will shield the floundering company from having legal action launched against it by panicked customers, who are collectively owed $250-million, for the next month. Lawyers for Quadriga told the court the company needed a “time out” so it could focus on efforts to find its users’ money. As much as $180-million in cryptocurrency is believed to be missing.
While lawyers are still working to figure out exactly how many users Quadriga has – the number is likely close to 115,000, they told Justice Wood this week – counsel representing nearly 100 affected users will appear in court next week. A motion has been submitted to appoint a committee of five “affected users” to represent all Quadriga customers. Justice Wood is scheduled to hear arguments related to that motion on Feb. 14.