About $140 million in cryptocurrencies have been frozen in user accounts of Canadian digital platform QuadrigaCX.
Its founder, the only person with the password to gain access, died suddenly in December.
QuadrigaCX owes a total of $190 million to its 115,000 affected users.
The platform filed for creditor protection in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court last week.
Ajeet Khurana runs the cryptocurrency exchange Zebpay: (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZEBPAY CEO AJEET KHURANA, SAYING: "It seems like the fundamental sloppiness around security, which is that it cannot reside in one person, or one individual, probably happened, as one person had, effectively,the private key or, what you would loosely call, a password, and that person is no longer available.
As a result, those coins are lost forever, which is very different from a hack, when, you know, somebody comes and maliciously takes coins.
This is just hiding behind a private key, which is no longer accessible." QuadrigaCX's CEO, Gerald Cotten, died at the age of 30 from Crohn's disease complications while volunteering at an orphanage in India.
That's according to the company's Facebook page.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Cotten's widow said she had received online threats and what she called "slanderous comments", including questions about the nature of her hudband's death, and whether he is really dead.