Gerald Cotten, the late CEO of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, is he really dead?
This is just one of the questions explored in the documentary Dead Man’s Switch: A Crypto Mystery (as part of Hot Docs 2021 festival), which takes you on a deep, yet explanatory, dive into the mysterious death that left $ 215 million in cash and cryptocurrency missing.
In 2018, Cotten, 30, took a trip to India with his widow Jennifer Robertson for their honeymoon and to open an orphanage. Nine days later, Cotten is believed to have died from complications from Crohn’s disease, with Robertson publicly announcing the death a month later.
It was determined that Cotten was the only person who could access the QuadrigaCX funds, the cold wallet, with his widow not even able to unlock her personal computer, leaving people with no money, including the savings of a lifetime. for some people.
Cotten’s death came after the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) froze an account controlled by QuadrigaCX with around $ 25 million. Previous reports have revealed that co-founder Michael Patryn is actually convicted felon Omar Dhanani, who served time in the United States for his role in the network of identity theft and credit card fraud.
The Ontario Securities Commission concluded that Cotten was exploiting a Ponzi scheme, ultimately crediting himself with fake currencies and crypto asset balances, which he traded with unsuspecting QuadrigaCX clients.
The timing of Cotten’s death has led many to wonder if he really died in India or if it was a ‘dead man change’ situation with the concept of something becoming activated. or disabled if the human owner dies. In the film, the question arises whether a mechanism has been put in place where, for example, if someone does not put their password for 30 days, the private keys can be sent to someone from other.
“ It’s not the king of the tigers, it’s Canada and people love their privacy ”
The director of the film, Sheona McDonald, kind of fell for the idea when she went to dinner with a broadcaster and asked if they had a movie about cryptocurrency. Turns out she wasn’t and it took her on a journey to delve deep into this world. She started dabbling in cryptocurrency with QuadrigaCX and saw the notice that Cotten had passed away and everything was frozen.
“I thought, this is why I have this development money, this is what I’m supposed to do,” McDonald said. Yahoo Canada.
The filmmaker speaks to several cryptocurrency experts in the film, in addition to reporters who covered QuadrigaCX extensively before, during and after Cotten’s death, and people who were directly affected and lost significant amounts of money.
The Canadian Tong Zou is one of the creditors of QuadrigaCX which appears in Dead Man’s Switch a crypto mystery who lost his savings, more than $ 500,000, and had to sell his apartment in San Francisco to try to get out of his debts.
“Finding the characters or the people whose lives were really directly affected was very difficult to do,” said McDonald. “It’s not Tiger King, it’s Canada and people love their privacy.”
The filmmaker also lost some money when she was “messing around” with cryptocurrency, and admits that she has fallen into many traps she has been warned about.
“It was good to realize the vulnerability and if you don’t have it, don’t play with it,” McDonald said. “And if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
“I’ve realized as far as I know, I don’t know anything, and there are always people who know more. So it’s a really interesting world, but be careful.”
Robertson did not accept the filmmaker’s request to be interviewed for the film, nor did the other members of Cotten’s family, whom McDonald admits would have helped “humanize” as the character in this film. history.
“It would have been great to chat with her, to hear the point of view,” she said. “The more information you have, the more history you can make.”
“There are only two people who really know what happened in India.”
Even without that key voice, the movie is still an intriguing look at these weird cases, and McDonald’s is able to explain cryptocurrency concepts that anyone would need to really understand how this world works, in a way that does not affect the pace of the story.
“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that Gerald was a person and that there was a widow and a grieving family,” the filmmaker said. “I think by using his videos, where you actually see him, I hope to make him more human, even though these people wouldn’t be talking to us.”