If the court accepts the prosecutor’s petition in the case, team members of the now-defunct Turkish crypto exchange Thodex might face thousands of years in jail. Since Thodex ceased operations in an alleged exit forgery last year, the trading platform’s CEO has been AWOL.
Turkey is Seeking up to 40,000 Years in Prison for the Convicts in the Thodex Case
According to a Turkish prosecutor, Faruk Fatih Ozer, the founder and CEO of the crypto exchange Thodex, and another 20 people involved in its activities should each face up to 40,564 years in prison.
About a year after the platform ceased trading, the indictment was published by the Demiroren news agency and Hurriyet. The defendants are accused of forming a criminal organization, defrauding the government, and laundering money from illegal acts.
Despite efforts by Turkish law enforcement to locate him in many countries, the 28-year-old Ozer has been missing since last year and is still wanted on a red Interpol alert. He was last seen on video from Istanbul Airport, which was released a year ago.
Thodex sprang to prominence during the most recent cryptocurrency bubble, which drew a large number of Turks looking to protect their funds from the steep inflation of their native fiat currency, the Turkish lira. Last spring, the exchange, which had roughly 400,000 investors, went offline unexpectedly.
Ozer went to Albania with $2 billion of their money, according to local media sources at the time. According to Bloomberg, he promised to refund customers and return to his native country to face prosecution in a statement delivered from an unknown location in April 2021.
The Turkish indictment claims 356 million lira ($24 million) in losses. However, according to research published in January by Chainalysis, the sum should be significantly higher – $2.6 billion. According to the blockchain forensics firm:
It’s worth noting that one single centralized exchange, Thodex, can be blamed for about 90% of the total value lost through rug pulls in 2021. Thodex’s CEO vanished shortly after the exchange blocked users’ ability to withdraw assets.
Following the fall of Thodex, more than 60 persons were arrested, with six being sentenced to prison. Turkish authorities initiated fraud investigations into it and another Turkish trading site, Vebitcoin, after Turkey’s central bank banned the use of cryptocurrencies for payments. Coinzo, another large Turkish exchange, shut down its crypto trading services in October.
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