Former Thodex CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer and his two siblings have received a unique prison sentence of 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days, along with a $5 million fine, according to a Turkish court’s decision. The charges against them include “establishing, managing, and being a member of an organization,” “qualified fraud,” and “money laundering of property values” as reported by the Turkish state-run news agency.
Thodex, once one of Turkey’s largest and most influential cryptocurrency exchanges, plunged into turmoil in 2021 when it abruptly ceased operations, leaving users in disbelief and shock. Ozer, the exchange’s founder, fled the country, carrying away an estimated $2 billion worth of crypto assets belonging to Thodex users. At the time, Ozer strongly denied any wrongdoing, vehemently rejecting allegations of an exit scam.
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After being on the run, Ozer was apprehended in Albania in August 2022, where he was serving a jail sentence. He was later extradited to Turkey in April 2023 to face charges of fraud and money laundering. Prior to this conviction, Ozer was already incarcerated for failing to submit tax documents.
Throughout the protracted legal battle, Ozer maintained his innocence, claiming that he and his family were victims of injustice. In his court statement, Ozer defended Thodex, portraying it as a legitimate crypto company that had suffered bankruptcy without any criminal intent. He boldly stated,
“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 clear that the suspects in the file have been victims for more than 2 years.”
The case against Thodex involved a total of 21 defendants, with only five appearing in court in person. Sixteen of them were acquitted of “qualified fraud” due to a lack of evidence, and four were released. Other defendants received varying sentences based on their level of involvement in the fraud.
Following this case, in a report by Todayq News on November 11, 2023, Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag and Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov agreed on a two-year cooperation program. They aimed to combat cybercrime, with a focus on unlawful cryptocurrency use, updating digital asset laws, and proposing UN measures against high-tech crime. Krasnov criticized the Western world for having a limited view of cybercrime.
But as of now, this unique decision reminds us how crucial it is to have rules and accountability in the cryptocurrency industry. It also shows that crypto-related crimes have worldwide consequences, and law enforcement is determined to seek justice.