Faruk Fatih Özer, the CEO and founder of the now-defunct Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, along with his sister Serap Özer and brother Güven Özer, has been sentenced to an astonishing 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison, as reported by local media. Additionally, a substantial judicial fine of 135 million Turkish liras (approximately $5 million) has been imposed on them.
Thodex was among Turkey’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges until it abruptly ceased operations in April 2021, coinciding with Faruk Özer’s disappearance. This sudden shutdown left over 400,000 members unable to access deposits amounting to $2 billion in cryptocurrencies. Faruk Özer had fled to Albania but was arrested in August 2022 following an Interpol red notice issued against him.
By April 2023, Özer had been extradited to Turkey and detained by the police upon his arrival. He faced several charges, including establishing and managing an organization with criminal intent, being a member of a criminal organization, fraudulent activities involving information systems of banks or credit institutions, fraud targeting merchants, company executives, and cooperative managers, as well as money laundering associated with assets obtained through criminal means.
Upon the case’s revelation, Özer’s brother, sister, and four other high-ranking employees were imprisoned, while at least 83 individuals were detained during the investigation. The subsequent trial involved 21 defendants facing potential sentences totaling up to 40,564 years in prison.
The verdict, delivered by the Anatolian 9th Heavy Penal Court, resulted in the acquittal of 16 out of the 21 defendants, with four of the seven previously jailed individuals being released due to insufficient evidence. The remaining defendants received varying prison sentences for their involvement in various criminal activities.
Thodex’s collapse had a significant impact in Turkey, where cryptocurrencies had been sought as a hedge against soaring inflation and the rapid devaluation of the national currency, the lira. The case underscores the importance of regulatory oversight and security in the cryptocurrency industry to protect investors and maintain trust in the sector.
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