Amanda Lang: Quadriga case a cautionary tale for crypto investors
The latest twist in the crypto drama that stranded $190 million in assets on Quadriga CX brought more bad news for the investors: British Columbia’s securities regulator said Thursday it doesn’t have jurisdiction over the exchange.
The provincial agency “does not currently have any indication that Quadriga CX, the crypto asset trading platform, was trading in securities or derivatives or operated as a marketplace or exchange under British Columbia securities laws," Brian Kladko, a spokesman for the British Columbia Securities Commission, said in an email statement. “As such, BCSC does not regulate it."
Vancouver-based Quadriga CX has been unable to access $190 million in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies belonging to its customers since its Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cotten -- who had the electronic keys to access the cache -- died in December. That’s left 115,000 users scrambling to figure out how to get back their money.
The Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella group, published an investor alert last June urging Canadians to be cautious when considering buying crypto assets through trading platforms. The alert said a platform may call itself an "exchange," but it may not be selling or trading securities or derivatives and, if such is the case, it will generally not be subject to regulation under securities or derivatives laws.
To date, no cryptocurrency exchange has been recognized as a marketplace by Canadian securities regulators, Kladko said.
B.C.’s securities regulator does have some oversight on the exchange owner, Quadriga Fintech Solutions Corp., which is a public company. The commission ordered that shares of Quadriga Fintech cease trading in March 2016 for failing to make required filings.
Those looking for recourse can’t turn to the courts just yet. Quadriga CX was given creditor protection this week in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, essentially halting any legal claims against it while the firm gets onto firmer financial footing. Cotten, who essentially operated the exchange from his laptop computer, resided near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Canada’s federal police agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, knows of the crypto firm, but hasn’t indicated whether it is investigating.
“The RCMP is aware of the allegations against Quadriga CX," Sgt. Penny Hermann said in an email. “We will not be providing any further information."