- Thodex ceased operations in April 2021, leaving over 400,000 users without access to their deposits.
- Özer disappeared and was arrested in Albania in August 2022.
- He was detained on seven charges, including forming an organization with criminal intentions, fraud, and money laundering.
In a stunning turn of events, Faruk Fatih Özer, the founder of the now-defunct Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, along with his sister Serap Özer and brother Güven Özer, has received an astounding prison sentence totaling 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days. To add to their woes, they’ve also been hit with a substantial judicial fine of 135 million Turkish liras, which roughly translates to $5 million.
Once a prominent player in Turkey’s cryptocurrency landscape, Thodex abruptly ceased operations back in April 2021, leaving more than 400,000 users in the lurch. These users found themselves unable to access their deposits, which amounted to a staggering $2 billion in cryptocurrencies. Adding to the mystery, Faruk Özer disappeared from the scene.
Months later, Özer was located in Albania and arrested in August 2022 after an Interpol red notice was issued against him. Fast forward to April 2023, and Özer had been brought back to Turkey and detained on seven charges. These charges included forming and leading an organization with criminal intentions, being part of an organized group, utilizing information systems to commit fraud against banks or credit institutions, engaging in fraudulent activities involving businesspeople, company executives, and cooperative managers, as well as money laundering from proceeds of illegal activities.
The shocking revelations surrounding the case led to the incarceration of Özer’s siblings and four high-ranking employees, with a total of 83 individuals being detained during the investigation, according to reports by CoinDesk. The subsequent trial involved 21 defendants who faced potential sentences of up to 40,564 years in prison.
The verdict, delivered by the Anatolian 9th Heavy Penal Court, came down on Thursday. It resulted in the acquittal of 16 out of the 21 defendants, and four of the seven individuals who had been in custody were released due to insufficient evidence.
As a side note, Thodex’s collapse sent shockwaves throughout Turkey. Cryptocurrencies had been seen as a hedge against rampant inflation and the significant devaluation of the national currency, the lira.