How to start a Bitcoin ATM business? (2020 Update)
QuadrigaCX: A history of suspicious activity
This is a compilation of everything suspicious I found with Quadriga. Please let me know if there’s anything incorrect or missing Early History (2013-2017)
QuadrigaCX started in 2013 and made history by being the first crypto exchange to register with FINTRAC and accept gold bullion deposits. By 2015, Quadriga became Canada’s largest crypto exchange. So far, so good.
In March 2015, Quadriga attempted to go public and a month later, announced its intention to install Bitcoin ATMs across Canada. Both these plans were eventually aborted.
Even though Quadriga never listed, it started selling its shares over-the-counter. In Sep 2015, Quadriga stopped publishing audits. In March 2016, Quadriga was banned from selling shares after the BCSC issued a cease trade order (CTO) for not submitting an audit.
Around the same time, 3 of Quadriga’s 5 directors (Anthony Milewski, Lovie Horner, Bill Filtness) and CFO (Natasha Tsai) all resigned. Sometime in 2016, Director and Co-founder Michael Patryn resigned. This left Gerald Cotten ("Gerry") as the only remaining director.
Evidence shows that Michael Patryn has used several aliases (including Omar Dhanani) and is a convicted identity thief
Quadriga has changed its business address several times. It started as a Vancouver-based exchange, with its addresses changing from Commercial Dr, Nelson St, and Homer St. Eventually, the address moved to Toronto. None of these were physical office addresses, but instead a mail forwarding address.
The Terms of Service on Quadriga’s website have always suspiciously stated that:
All account fundings are considered to be purchases of QuadrigaCX Bucks. These are units that are used for the purposes of purchasing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. QuadrigaCX Bucks are NOT Canadian Dollars. Any notation of $, CAD, or USD refers to an equivalent unit in QuadrigaCX Bucks, which exist for the sole purpose of buying and selling Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. QuadrigaCX is NOT a financial institution, bank, credit union, trust, or deposit business. We DO NOT take Deposits. We exist solely for the purposes of buying and selling cryptocurrencies.
Banking troubles throughout 2018
In late Dec 2017, Jose Reyes (CEO of Billerfy and Costodian Inc, Quadriga’s payment processor) moved over a million dollars from Quadriga’s account and into his own personal CIBC account
Shortly after, CIBC froze these funds and tried reaching out to Gerry, who refused to speak with them
All throughout 2018, Quadriga’s fiat withdrawal times took 2-3 months to complete. Quadriga kept citing the CIBC freeze as the reason. What’s very suspicious is how Quadriga constantly lied to customers with promises such as “the withdrawal backlog will be cleared in 1 week” or “your funds have been processed” when in fact they were months away from doing so.
Period leading up to Gerry’s death
On Nov 27, Gerry filed his will just 12 days before his death. He left a plane, two houses, and $100,000 for the care of his two Chihuahuas.
Gerry had a plan for all his personal affairs in the event of his death but he had no contingency plan for $180M CAD of crypto in cold storage that only he had the private keys to?
India is a suspicious place to travel, considering Gerry had a medical condition and considering how easy it is to get a death certificate there
After a severe bear market, most crypto businesses have been struggling and laying off staff. It’s odd that Gerry, who has no history of philanthropy, chooses to donate money. Especially when his exchange is having so many banking troubles.
The organization that built the orphanage states on their website that they take care of all construction. There was zero need for Gerry to go to India
A reddit post shows that the orphanage exists, although it’s a mystery where the image came from
Bitcoin fell 50% in Nov – the worst monthly decline in 7 years. Gerry’s death occurred shortly after
Gerry’s death and announcement
On Dec 9, Gerry died in India “due to complications of Crohn’s disease.” However, there is a low probability that Crohn’s disease is fatal, especially at the young age of 30
Just a couple days later, a reddit post indicated someone bought 300 BTC on Quadriga at a 25% premium and moved the funds out of the exchange
It took Quadriga over a month to announce Gerry’s death on Jan 14th.
Over the following 2 weeks, Quadriga continued to assure customers that “our hot wallets are being filled and withdrawals are going slower but will complete.”
On Jan 28th, Quadriga takes down their website. Initially they said “an upgrade is being performed,” then the message changed to “site maintenance” before being changed to “Quadriga has filed for creditor protection” on Jan 31st.
In the media, Gerry stated several times that Quadriga uses multi-sig cold storage. This is where 2/3 or 3/5 people can be used to authorize a transaction. Clearly no multisig was used if only Gerry had the private keys.
Formal Active Investigations
A preliminary court hearing was held on Feb 5, 2019 where the Canadian Apex Court appointed Ernst and Young (EY) as Monitor to further investigate into the matter. EY has stated that its an extraordinary challenge to decipher Quadriga's finances, as the company has no accounting records (and did not systematically track incoming and outgoing payments) nor a bank account in its name.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB), which gives Quadriga an F-rating, launched an investigation in Dec 2018
Quadriga has substantial personal information on its customers, including SIN, driver's license, and banking details. Given Quadriga's murky history, customers may have their identity at risk and should setup up credit report and identity theft alerts with either Equifax or TransUnion.
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