Thodex CEO gets 11,000 year Sentence for $2B Scam
Faruk Fatih Özer, CEO of Thodex, Turkey's largest crypto exchange, has been sentenced to an unprecedented 11,196 years in prison for fraud and money laundering.
Faruk Fatih Özer, the CEO of the once-prominent Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, has been handed an unprecedented 11,196-year prison sentence.
Established in 2017, Thodex quickly rose to prominence, becoming Turkey's largest crypto exchange. However, its reputation came crashing down when, without warning, the platform ceased all services. The abrupt halt left 400,000 users without access to their crypto deposits, amounting to nearly $2 billion. Initially, Özer attributed the sudden closure to an undefined external investment, which necessitated a trading pause.
However, the narrative soon shifted, with Özer claiming cyberattacks as the reason for the halt. Despite these claims, he assured users that their funds were safe and promised reimbursement.
In the aftermath of Thodex's collapse, Özer disappeared, fleeing to Albania. His escape added fuel to the growing suspicions of a massive exit scam. However, his time as a fugitive was short-lived. By August 2022, authorities located him in Vlorë, a major coastal city in Albania. Following his capture, he was extradited to Turkey in April 2023 to face charges of fraud and money laundering.
The Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court found Özer guilty on multiple counts, including "establishing, managing and being a member of an organization," "qualified fraud," and "laundering of property values." Alongside him, his two siblings, who were involved in running the exchange, received identical sentences. In addition to the prison term, the court imposed a $5-million fine on the trio.
Özer's defense was built on the premise that Thodex was merely a crypto company that went bankrupt, devoid of any criminal intent. He argued:
"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 Thodex case had a total of 21 defendants. While 16 were acquitted due to a lack of evidence, the remaining faced varying degrees of sentences based on their involvement. The court's decision sends a clear message about the seriousness with which crypto-related fraud is viewed in Turkey.