Faruk Fatih Özer, CEO of defunct crypto exchange Thodex, fled to Albania in April 2021 with $2 billion in customer funds.
Faruk Fatih Özer, the founder and CEO of the now-defunct crypto exchange Thodex, has been sentenced to 11,169 years and six months in prison, alongside his sister Serap Özer and his brother Güven Özer, local news outlet Anadolu Agency reported.
The former CEO must also pay a judicial fine of 135 million liras, approximately $5 million.
Thodex was the first global exchange based in Turkiyë, and it was one of the largest in the country with over 400,000 users. It went offline in April 2021, when Özer fled to Albania with $2 billion in customer funds in his possession.
Users soon began to complain they could not access their funds, leading authorities to issue arrest warrants for Özer and 81 other suspects, including an Interpol red notice.
Özer was extradited to Turkiyë in April 2023 and detained on seven charges relating to organised crime, money laundering and fraud. The Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court sentenced the defendants for “establishing, managing and being a member of an organization”, “qualified fraud”, “laundering of property values”.
Earlier this year, Özer faced just seven months in jail for tax offences.
“If I were to establish a criminal organization, I would not act so amateurishly.”
Defending himself against the court’s opinion, Özer claimed that Thodex was just a company that went bankrupt, stating there is “no mention of a criminal organization in Thodex” (translated from Turkish).
He 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,” adding, “If I were to establish a criminal organisation, I would not act so amateurishly.”
Özer’s sister, Serap Özer, maintained that she did not work at Thodex when it was founded.
She told the court, “I joined this company not to commit a crime, but for my career.”
Many Turkish citizens rely on cryptocurrency to protect themsevles against the hyper-inflationary Turkish lira. In addition, the nation has welcomed Web3 technology, announcing plans to use blockchain technology to access digital public services.
Disclaimer: CryptoPlug does not recommend that any cryptocurrency should be bought, sold, or held by you. Do conduct your own due diligence and consult your financial advisor before making any investment decisions.