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Laptop likely holds key to missing $180 million in cryptocurrency: experts

Interested parties attend Nova Scotia Supreme Court as Canada's largest cryptocurrency exchange seeks creditor protection in the wake of the sudden death of its founder and chief executive in December and missing cryptocurrency worth roughly $190-million, in Halifax on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Vancouver-based Quadriga says it filed an application for creditor protection on Jan. 31. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

 

HALIFAX — Experts in the cryptocurrency industry say there’s a slim chance technicians will be able to recover the $180 million in digital assets believed to be in the laptop of the late founder of the insolvent QuadrigaCX exchange platform.

Alfred Lehar, a finance professor at the University of Calgary, says access to Gerald Cotten’s computer is probably protected by some form of digital security — but Lehar says those barriers could be overcome with the right tools.

However, Lehar says the big question is whether Cotten’s laptop contains the private digital keys needed to unlock the highly secure offline locations where the cryptocurrency is being stored — known as cold wallets.

Cotten, a Nova Scotia resident and CEO of QuadrigaCX, was travelling in India on Dec. 9 when he died suddenly.

His widow, Jennifer Robertson, has said Cotten was the only person with access to the laptop and the private keys.

Manie Eagar, CEO of Vancouver-based DigitalFutures, says if the private keys aren’t in the laptop, it will be impossible to recover the funds because the encryption used is beyond what can be hacked with existing computers.

The Canadian Press

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