The former CEO of Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Özer, was sentenced to 11,196 years in prison by a Turkish court on charges of “establishing, managing and being a member of an organization,” “qualified fraud,” and “laundering of property values.”
The Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court sentenced Özer along with his two siblings to the same jail sentence of 11,196 years, 10 months and 15 days in prison along with a $5-million fine, reported Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu Agency.
The Turkish crypto exchange was one of the largest digital asset trading platforms in the country before it abruptly imploded in 2021. The exchange halted services on the platform without prior notice, and the founder, Özer, fled the country along with users’ assets totaling $2 billion in crypto. At the time, Özer had refuted all claims of a possible exit scam.
The fugitive founder was finally detained in Albania in August 2022, where he was serving a jail sentence, before he was extradited to Turkey in April 2023 on charges of fraud and money laundering. Özer was already in jail for failure to submit tax documents since July, while the most recent conviction comes for defrauding customers.
The founder of the crypto exchange claimed in court that he and his family are facing injustice. He said Thodex was just a crypto company that went bankrupt and had no criminal intentions. A Google-translated version of Özer’s court statement read:
“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 it is clear that the suspects in the file have been victims for more than 2 years.”
The long-drawn-out case against the Thodex crypto exchange had 21 defendants, five of whom attended the court hearing in person. The court acquitted 16 defendants of “qualified fraud” due to lack of evidence and ordered the release of four defendants. The other defendants in the case received varying degrees of sentences based on their involvement in the fraud.