Former Turkish crypto exchange Thodex CEO Faruk Fatih Özer, along with his two siblings, has been sentenced to an astonishing 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison, accompanied by a hefty $5-million fine, by the Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court.
This severe judgment results from charges related to their alleged roles in “establishing, managing, and being a member of an organization,” “qualified fraud,” and “laundering of property values,” as reported by the Turkish state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency.
Once a prominent player in Turkey’s digital asset trading scene, Thodex dramatically collapsed in 2021, leaving users in shock as the platform abruptly ceased its services without prior warning.
Faruk Fatih Özer, the exchange’s founder, made a hasty exit, absconding from the country, taking with him a staggering $2 billion worth of users’ cryptocurrency holdings.
Throughout the scandal’s unfolding, Özer vehemently denied any wrongdoing or involvement in an exit scam.
The fugitive CEO remained on the run until he was apprehended in Albania in August 2022, where he was serving a separate jail sentence.
In April 2023, Özer was finally extradited to Turkey, facing charges of fraud and money laundering.
Even before this recent conviction, Özer had been incarcerated since July for failing to provide tax documentation.
During his trial, Özer argued vehemently against the charges, claiming that he and his family were victims of injustice.
He asserted that Thodex was merely a cryptocurrency company that had gone bankrupt and had no criminal intentions.
He further defended himself by highlighting his early entrepreneurial success, stating that, “I am smart enough to manage all institutions in the world.”
He argued that his actions didn’t align with those of a criminal organization and that the suspects had been victims for over two years.
This protracted legal saga surrounding Thodex featured a total of 21 defendants, with five of them attending the court proceedings in person.
Of these, 16 defendants were acquitted of “qualified fraud” due to insufficient evidence, and four were ordered to be released.
The remaining defendants received varying sentences based on their levels of involvement in the alleged fraud.