Canada securities watchdog says crypto firm Quadriga beyond its purview

(Reuters) - British Columbia Securities Commission, the province’s securities regulator, said on Thursday that it does not regulate Quadriga CX, the Vancouver, B.C.-based digital platform whose founder died in December, trapping millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies in its accounts.

The Canadian regulator said it has been aware of the company’s operations since 2017 but has not had any indication that it was trading in securities or derivatives or if it operated as an exchange, which would put it under its purview.

“As such, BCSC does not regulate it,” spokesman Brian Kladko said in an email.

The Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella organization for the country’s provincial securities regulators, said no crypto-asset trading platform had “been regulated as a marketplace by Canadian securities regulators.”

“The CSA continues to urge Canadians to be cautious when considering buying crypto-assets through trading platforms,” CSA spokeswoman Ilana Kelemen said in an email on Thursday.

About C$180 million ($135.39 million) in cryptocurrencies have been frozen in the user accounts of Quadriga since its founder Gerald Cotten, the only person with the password to gain access, died suddenly in December.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered a 30-day stay on claims against the firm, providing a temporary reprieve from lawsuits from creditors.

The platform - a trading venue for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum - had previously filed for creditor protection in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Quadriga owes C$250 million to 115,000 affected users, according to an affidavit filed by Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, on behalf of the firm.

Reporting by Debroop Roy in Bengaluru and John Tilak in Toronto; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall