QuadrigaCX Co-Founder Traded Away Users’ Funds as Sole Operational Director: Report

  • More than $220 million worth of users' funds absconded-with by QuadrigaCX co-founder
  • Stollen funds used for trading on "competitor exchanges" - for a loss

Reportedly deceased QuadrigaCX co-founder Gerald Cotton withdrew customers' funds to trade on both spot and leveraged margin exchanges, incurring significant losses in the process, alleges the latest public report on court proceedings surrounding the incident.

The report, the fifth commissioned to the global accountancy firm Ernst and Young (EY) by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, found that a vast sum of cryptoassets were transferred from QuadrigaCX exchange wallets to wallets operated by “competitor” exchanges and controlled Cotton, between the period 2016-19. The vast majority of the transfers occurred under Cotton’s alias “Chris Markay.”

Specifically, 9,450 bitcoin, 387,738 ether and 239,020 Litecoin were said to be transferred from QuadrigaCX in this way, and the questionable transfers resulted in “overall trading losses” trading on both spot and margin exchanges.

An additional sum of 21,501 bitcoin was also transferred to an exchange wallet controlled by Cotton, although it is unknown precisely how much of this sum originated from QuadrigaCX wallets. The proportion is unknown because the wallet is held in an offshore location not obliged to comply with EY’s requests for full accounting details. EY added however, that this information has been given to law enforcement of the unspecified jurisdiction.

 

 

EY also claim that Cotton traded on QuadrigaCX itself, using what were likely false deposits of fiat currency to buy cryptocurrency on the platform and counter-trade customers. About 300,000 trades were made from these “unsupported deposits,” which helped beef up QuadrigaCX’s trading volume and trading revenues.

The EY report outlines some generally poor practices that seem to have enabled the scandal, includin poor Know-Your-Customer (KYC) standards enforced on the exchange, which enable the easy exploitation of the platform; no separation between users’ wallets and the exchange’s wallets; and a “significantly flawed” financial reporting and operational control operating infrastructure, which EY claim were largely directed by Cotton alone and in which “typical segregation of duties and basic internal controls did not appear to exist.”

An Unpaid Bill

The QuadrigaCX story has been so big as to make it to non-crypto media in Canada. It has recently been reported by the CBC that Cotton’s alleged exploits have left former customers in the lurch, to as much as $250 million (Canadian) of unreturned funds.

EY claim that roughly 76,000 users’ funds are stuck in limbo as, in effect, unpaid IOUs, and confirm a figure of $214.6 million CAD remains unpaid.

Sub-accounts in Crypto: What They Are and How They Work

 

Julia Gerstein, a crypto trading bots enthusiast and a content writer at TradeSanta. My final goal is to help readers find what they need, understand what they find, and use what they understand appropriately.


Speaking generally, a sub-account is a segregated smaller account that is tied to a larger primary account. Sub-accounts may serve different functions depending on the objectives of their owners. The term can refer to multiple email addresses linked to one user or secondary accounts tied to a primary account with a financial institution or a bank.

For this article, we will be looking at sub-accounts as they exist in the crypto industry, and specifically on trading platforms.

Built-in Sub-Accounts

On trading platforms, the sub-accounts feature allows users to create a set of subsidiary accounts with different trading strategies, funds and end customers. On some platforms, general accounts already come with built-in sub-accounts.

For example, exchange platform Crypto Facilities provides each user with cash and margin accounts when they sign up. While deposits and withdrawals are completed with the cash account, trading an instrument requires users to make an internal transfer from a cash account to their margin account that corresponds to the instrument in question.

Each instrument has its own margin account. This grants users more control over their funds and allows them to manage risks for each instrument separately from their main balance.

Optional Sub-Accounts

Other cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Gemini and Binance, have launched sub-accounts as an optional feature for institutional investors.

As an optional feature, sub-accounts can serve to introduce additional security measures and different access levels between the main account and its subsidiaries. Binance has underlined the differences between a master account and its subsidiaries, providing the former with the exclusive ability to view all data and balances, transfer funds between accounts, and have full managerial control and access to a range of asset audit tools.

Here master accounts have sole control over the movement of assets between sub-accounts, and can grant each of them different access levels and permissions. This ensures that the main account has the power to direct and monitor the actions of all its associated accounts, while each sub-account can perform its function independently from other sub-accounts.

Not Only for Institutional Investors

While institutional investors have been able to create sub-accounts for a while, this feature is still being introduced by more and more major exchanges.

Now even individual investors can create subsidiary accounts to try and assess the performance of distinct trading strategies. For example, HitBTC recently introduced its own sub-accounts feature that is now available per user’s request.

At HitBTC, sub-accounts enable users to create separate subsidiary accounts with which they can utilize various trading styles and strategies with operational autonomy. While each sub-account is separate, all of them are still tied to a master account and contribute to the cumulative volume of all accounts connected to the master.

Because trading volume is measured cumulatively, the use of the subaccounts feature can open up additional benefits for traders such as lower commissions due to progressive fee tiers that reward users for contributing to the liquidity on the trading platform.

Therefore, users can perform a variety of different trading activities unconnected to each other, and all the activities will still weigh in the financial favor of the parties involved. Master accounts also have access to important data such as the performance of each sub-account and total trading fees of all linked accounts combined. While the feature is designed with institutional and corporate clients in mind, on HitBTC any user can create sub-accounts upon request.

The adoption of this feature by more and more trading platforms will be beneficial for both institutional and individual traders. Some users can utilize it to execute different trading strategies or try various algorithms with a clear picture of their effectiveness, others to manage their team and analyze the performance of each account securely and conveniently.

Featured image by Tyler Franta on Unsplash