The former CEO of Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Özer, has been sentenced to a staggering 11,196 years in prison by a Turkish court. Özer, along with his two siblings, was found guilty of various charges including “establishing, managing, and being a member of an organization,” “qualified fraud,” and “laundering of property values.” The court also imposed a $5-million fine on each of them.
This news comes after Thodex, once one of the largest digital asset trading platforms in Turkey, abruptly shut down its services in 2021 without any prior notice. The founder, Özer, then fled the country with approximately $2 billion worth of users’ assets in cryptocurrency. At the time, Özer vehemently denied any allegations of an exit scam.
After being on the run for several months, Özer was finally apprehended in Albania in August 2022 while serving a jail sentence there. He was subsequently extradited to Turkey in April 2023 to face charges of fraud and money laundering. Prior to this latest conviction, Özer had already been incarcerated for failing to submit tax documents since July.
During the court proceedings, Özer claimed that he and his family were victims of injustice. He maintained that Thodex was simply a failed crypto company and denied any criminal intentions. In a statement translated from Turkish, Özer said, “I am smart enough to manage all institutions in the world. This is evident from the company I founded at the age of 22. If I were to establish a criminal organization, I would not act so amateurishly. What is in question is it is clear that the suspects in the file have been victims for more than 2 years.”
The case against Thodex involved a total of 21 defendants, with five of them present at the court hearing. The court acquitted 16 defendants of “qualified fraud” due to a lack of evidence and ordered the release of four defendants. The remaining defendants received varying sentences based on their involvement in the fraudulent activities.
This landmark ruling highlights the growing concerns surrounding the crypto industry and the need for stricter regulations to protect users and investors. The Thodex case serves as a cautionary tale for individuals and organizations involved in cryptocurrency exchanges, emphasizing the importance of transparency and adherence to legal and ethical standards.
While cryptocurrencies offer numerous benefits and opportunities, such cases of fraud and mismanagement only serve to undermine public trust in the industry. It is imperative for governments and regulatory bodies to establish robust frameworks that ensure the security and integrity of digital asset trading platforms, thereby fostering confidence among users and encouraging wider adoption of cryptocurrencies.
The Thodex debacle has undoubtedly left a profound impact on Turkey’s crypto landscape, prompting authorities to take stricter measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. As the crypto industry continues to evolve, it is crucial for stakeholders to prioritize the establishment of a safe and reliable ecosystem that protects the interests of all participants.