In a shocking legal development, Faruk Fatih Özer, the former CEO of Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, along with his two siblings, has been sentenced to a staggering collective prison sentence of 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days. This verdict follows a widely publicized trial that has captivated the entire nation of Turkey.
Thodex, once a prominent figure in the Turkish cryptocurrency landscape, sent shockwaves through the nation in April 2021 when it abruptly imploded, leaving over 400,000 users unable to access an estimated $2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies held within their accounts.
After Thodexs downfall, the exchanges founder Faruk Fatih Özer went into hiding. His disappearance triggered a nationwide manhunt that concluded when he was apprehended in Albania in August 2022, facilitated by an Interpol red notice and subsequently extradited back to Turkey in April 2023.
In Turkey, the legal proceedings took place involving 21 defendants and only five of them were present in court. Among the defendants, four were released from custody due to a lack of compelling evidence, while all charges against the remaining sixteen were dropped due to insufficient proof. Özer and his siblings were convicted of crimes, including aggravated fraud, being involved in a criminal organization and engaging in money laundering, leading to their extraordinary prison sentences.
The precise extent of the losses experienced by investors remains uncertain. Estimates vary from $13 million to reported figures high as $2 billion. A research conducted by Chainalysis suggests that the total losses could reach $2.6 billion.
The scandal reverberated throughout Turkey where people had turned to cryptocurrencies as a hedge against skyrocketing inflation and the depreciation of the Turkish lira.