A crypto executive from Turkey and his two siblings have been sentenced to 11,196 years in prison each for swindling investors out of millions. In 2021, 29-year-old Faruk Fatih Özer absconded to Albania with significant investor funds following the abrupt shutdown of his Thodex exchange platform. He was later extradited to Turkey in June and was convicted of money laundering, fraud, and involvement in organized crime.
During the trial, Ozer defended himself by stating that if he had criminal intentions, he wouldn’t have executed them in such an unsophisticated manner, as reported by state media. He was quoted by the Turkish Anadolu agency, emphasizing his capabilities by mentioning, “I am smart enough to lead any institution on Earth.” He highlighted the fact that he founded Thodex at the age of 22. His siblings, Serap and Guven, were also found guilty of similar charges during the trial in Istanbul.
The extensive prison sentences resulted from separate convictions for multiple offenses against 2,027 individuals, cumulating in the total years of the sentence. Since the elimination of the death penalty in 2004, such lengthy prison terms have become a norm in Turkey.
In another case in 2022, Adnan Oktar, a television evangelist, received a prison sentence of 8,658 years for fraudulent activities and sexual offenses. Ten of his associates were handed the same sentence. The prosecution had initially proposed a sentence of 40,562 years for Ozer.
The decline in the lira’s value over the past couple of years has led many in Turkey to turn to cryptocurrencies for financial security. Established in 2017, Thodex quickly rose to prominence as one of the nation’s leading crypto exchanges. Ozer, recognized as a financial prodigy, built connections with notable figures supportive of the government.
However, the platform unexpectedly ceased operations in April 2021, resulting in the vanishing of investor assets and Ozer’s disappearance. Following his arrest in Albania due to an Interpol warrant, he was extradited after extensive legal proceedings. Initial reports from Turkish media suggested Ozer absconded with assets valued at $2 billion; the official indictment approximated the total losses for Thodex investors to be 356 million liras. This amount equated to roughly $43 million at the time of the platform’s shutdown. Due to severe inflation and the lira’s devaluation, this sum is now estimated to be around $13 million.
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