Faruk Fatih Özer, the former CEO of the once-major Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, has been sentenced to a staggering 11,196 years in prison after defrauding users of approximately $2 billion. The announcement follows his extradition to Turkey in April 2023 after being apprehended in Albania.
Thodex, previously one of Turkey’s premier crypto exchanges, experienced a swift and tumultuous downfall in 2021. The platform ceased all operations unexpectedly, leaving users without access to their assets. Following this suspension, Özer disappeared, leading to suspicions of an exit scam. However, he had always maintained his innocence, arguing that Thodex was simply a business that faced bankruptcy without any malicious intent.
The Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court also sentenced Özer’s two siblings to the same term of 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison, in addition to a $5 million fine. These sentences were announced by Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s state-run news organization.
Özer’s escape from Turkey after the implosion of the exchange was short-lived. After fleeing in 2021, he was arrested in Albania in August 2022 and sent back to Turkey in April 2023 to face charges of money laundering and fraud.
The Google translation of 1zer’s court statement read as follows:
“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.”
During his trial, Özer expressed his belief that he and his family were victims of a miscarriage of justice. He reiterated his stance that Thodex was a regular crypto business that unfortunately went bankrupt and didn’t involve any fraudulent activities.
The extensive legal proceedings against Thodex involved 21 defendants. Out of these, five were physically present for the court hearing. Sixteen were acquitted of “qualified fraud” due to insufficient evidence, and four were released. The remaining defendants received varied sentences depending on their roles in the alleged scam.
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