QuadrigaCX: British Columbia’s Regulator Reportedly Didn’t Have Oversight Over the Exchange

Those using the now embattled cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX won’t be able to count on support from British Columbia’s securities regulator, the British Columbia Securities Commission, as it wasn’t regulated by the agency.

According to Bloomberg Brian Kladko, a spokesman for the British Columbia Securities Commission, revealed the agency currently has no indications QuadrigaCX was “operating as a marketplace or exchange under British Columbia securities laws.” Kladko concluded:

As such, BCSC does not regulate it.

The cryptocurrency exchange went down weeks after his founder and CEO Gerald Cotten unexpectedly passed away, on December 9. It was taken down after it was revealed Cotton was the only person with access to its cold storage keys, meaning QuadrigaCX was left locked out of the $145 million it owed users.

Reports have shown he filed for a will 12 days before passing away in India, and the documents show he left all his assets to his wife, Jennifer Robertson, and he made her the executor of his estate. In an attempt to resolve the complex situation Robertson filed an affidavit, where she mentioned she wasn’t able to retrieve the funds.

She explained:

The laptop computer from which Gerry carried out the Companies' business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key. Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them (the passwords) written down anywhere.

QuadrigaCX has since been granted creditor protection by a Nova Scotia Supreme court, which essentially protects it from lawsuits while it figures the situation out. To pay back its 115,000 users, it’s reportedly looking to sell its platform.

Research conducted by blockchain portal Zerononcense has, however, claimed QuadrigaCX might’ve never had the $145 million to begin with, and that the story of being locked out doesn’t make sense as wallets associated with the exchange have been moving funds. Cotten’s death certificate, issued by the Government of Rajasthan’s Directorate of Economics and Statistics, has since surfaced.

To date, Kladko added, no crypto exchange has been recognized as a marketplace by the securities regulator. The regulator does have oversight over the firm behind QuadrigaCX, Quadriga Fintech Solutions Corp., which is a public company. The British Columbia Securities Commission has reportedly ordered its shares to stop trading back in 2016, as it failed to “make required filings.”

Canada’s federal police agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is aware of the situation but hasn’t revealed whether it’s investigating it or not. Sgt. Penny Hermann, in an email to Bloomberg, was quoted as saying:

The RCMP is aware of the allegations against Quadriga CX. We will not be providing any further information.

Robertson, Cotten’s widow, has reportedly hired a hacker to try to access the embattled exchange’s funds in his laptop.

U.S. Congressman McHenry Calls Bitcoin ‘An Unstoppable Force’ at Libra Hearing

As far as cryptocurrency fans are concerned, one U.S. Congressman, Patrick McHenry, was the star of the House Financial Services Committee hearing on Libra on Wednesday (July 17). 

Before we talk about what happened at this hearing, and more specifically, how Congressman McHenry managed to endear himself to all blockchain and cryptocurrency fans, it might be helpful to present a very brief biography of him here.

Patrick Timothy McHenry is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 10th congressional district. He is serving his eight term at the U.S. congress, where he is currently the Republican Leader of the House Financial Services Committee, "a committee he has served on since he was elected to Congress" (in 2004, when he was just 29 years old).

On Wednesday (July 17), a day after Facebook's David Marcus, who is a co-creator of Libra and the head of the Calibra project, faced tough questions at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (aka "Senate Banking Committee"), came the real grilling at a full hearing (titled "Examining Facebook’s Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System") of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), who had previously implored Facebook to stop working on the Libra project until Congress could understand better the implications of what Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency, started the hearing by delivering a prepared statement, during which she, once again, expressed her "serious concerns with Facebook’s plans":

This venture is slated to be based in Switzerland, which has a history as a monetary haven for criminals and shady corporations. Facebook’s plans raise serious privacy, trading, national security, and monetary policy concerns, not only for Facebook’s over 2 billion users, who will have immediate access to these products, but also for consumers, investors and the global economy.

 Congressman McHenry's gave his opening remarks around 11:00 (Eastern Time). Here were the main highlights:

  • "Washington must go beyond the hype and ensure that it's not the place where innovation goes to die."
  • "Just because we may not fully understand a new technology proposal does not mean we should immediately call for its prohibition, especially when that proposal is just that — a proposal."
  • "The reality is whether Facebook is involved or not, change is here. Digital currencies exist. Blockchain technology is real. And Facebook's entry in this world is just confirmation, albeit at scale."
  •  "The world that Satoshi Nakamoto, author of the Bitcoin whitepaper, envisioned—and others are building—is an unstoppable force."
  • "We should not attempt to deter this innovation, and governments cannot stop this innovation. And those that have tried have already failed."
  • "Instead of a knee jerk reaction of banning something before it begins, my Replication colleagues and I want to first try an understanding. An in turn, based off what we learn, determine whether or not our current regulatory framework meets the demands of this new technology."  

Then, around 15:30 (ET), McHenry began his questioning of David Marcus about Libra; some of his most interesting questions are listed below.

McHenry: Is it a security?

Marcus: We don't believe it is, Congressman.

McHenry: Is it a commodity?

Marcus: Congressman, based on current U.S. law, it might be a commodity, but we see it as a payment tool.

McHenry: Is it an exchange traded fund?

Marcus: It is not, Congressman.

Congressman McHenry repeated his claim about Bitcoin being an unstoppable force during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC's morning news and talk program "Squawk Box":

I think there is no capacity to kill Bitcoin. Even the Chinese with their firewall and their extreme intervention in their society could not kill Bitcoin.

Sorkin then told McHenry that although it might not be possible to technically "kill" Bitcoin, it was possible for governments to create legislation that made access to Bitcoin illegal for their citizens at fiat on/off ramps such as exchanges (e.g. Coinbase) and custodial wallets (e.g. Calibra), and that would "effectively make it very very difficult for the mainstream to use it." Sorkin then said that's why investors in Bitcoin were worried, which explained the recent drop in price.

McHenry replied:

Yes, so the price has come down to roughly $10,000... But you are talking about something that... people were giving away for free. It's now trading at $10,000... But the essence of Bitcoin is what Libra, Facebook, and corporates are trying to mimic.