Canada’s leading cryptocurrency exchange company has said it cannot repay $190m (£110m) to clients because its founder died with their passwords.

Gerald Cotten, 30, founder of QuadrigaCX died “due to complications with Crohn’s disease” while travelling in India to open an orphanage in December, his wife Jennifer Robertson said.

Mr Cotten held “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins” and no other members of the team could access the stored funds, she said in a sworn affidavit as she filed for credit protection on 31 January.

Ms Robertson said about $190m (£110m) in both cryptocurrency and normal money is in “cold storage” – where the company, or just Mr Cotten in this case, holds the key, not the client.

The founder held “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins” and no other members of the team could access the stored funds, she added.

She has her husband’s laptop but she does not know the password and a technical expert they hired had not been able to bypass its encryption, she told the court.

Ms Robertson added in the affidavit that she and her colleagues have had threats made against them from online cryptocurrency communities – especially from Reddit users.

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