In 2021, the Thodex founder fled the country, but in August 2022, he was apprehended in Albania. Subsequently, in April 2023, he was extradited back to Turkey to face legal proceedings.
The former CEO of the Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Özer, has received a staggering sentence of 11,196 years in prison from a Turkish court. This verdict comes in response to charges related to the "establishment, management, and membership in an organization," "qualified fraud," and "money laundering."
Notably, Özer's two siblings were also sentenced to the same prison term of 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days, in addition to a $5-million fine. These sentences were handed down by the Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court, as reported by the Turkish state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency.
Thodex was once among Turkey's largest cryptocurrency exchanges until it suddenly collapsed in 2021. The exchange ceased all operations without prior warning, and Özer, its founder, fled the country, absconding with users' crypto assets valued at around $2 billion. Özer vehemently denied allegations of any exit scam at the time.
Following his evasion, Özer managed to evade authorities until his arrest in Albania in August 2022. Subsequently, he was extradited to Turkey in April 2023, facing charges related to fraud and money laundering. Prior to this recent conviction, Özer had already been in custody since July for failing to provide tax documents. This latest sentence stems from the fraudulent activities related to customer funds.
During his court appearance, the founder of the crypto exchange vehemently asserted that he and his family were victims of an unjust legal process. He contended that Thodex was essentially a cryptocurrency company that faced financial difficulties leading to bankruptcy, and he firmly denied any criminal intentions.
In a statement delivered in court, which was translated using Google Translate, Özer conveyed his perspective, saying, "I am skilled enough to manage any institution globally. This is evident from the company I established when I was just 22 years old. If I were establishing a criminal organization, I would not have conducted myself so inexpertly. It is abundantly clear that the individuals in question have been suffering as victims for more than two years."
The legal proceedings against the Thodex cryptocurrency exchange involved a total of 21 defendants, with five of them physically present during the court hearing. Of these, 16 defendants were acquitted of "qualified fraud" due to insufficient evidence, and four defendants were ordered to be released. The remaining defendants received varying sentences based on their respective degrees of involvement in the fraudulent activities associated with the case.
Turkish crypto exchange Thodex CEO gets 11,000-year sentence for $2B scam: Report (2023) Cointelegraph. Available at: https://cointelegraph.com/news/turkish-crypto-exchange-thodex-ceo-11-000-year-prison-for-2-b-scam (Accessed: 8 September 2023).