Faruk Fatih Özer, the CEO and founder of the Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, has been sentenced to an astounding 11,196 years in prison. This sentence, which notably outlasts the time since the last ice age, was given for defrauding investors out of approximately $2 billion. Why did Thodex crash? Why was Özer jailed?
Why did Thodex Crash?
Thodex, established as one of Turkey’s prominent crypto exchanges, met its downfall when it abruptly went offline in April 2021. This left over 400,000 members without access to their digital assets, a total amounting to $2 billion. The dramatic collapse of Thodex resonated widely in Turkey, a nation where cryptocurrency had become a refuge for many against the backdrop of soaring inflation and the plummeting lira.
Özer Evasion and Capture
Post the sudden shutdown of the exchange, Özer mysteriously disappeared. Rumors and reports suggested he had fled the country. It wasn’t long before Interpol issued a red notice, leading to his arrest in Albania. The allegations against him included fraudulent intent and establishing Thodex as a criminal front.
Trial and Sentencing
Upon extradition to Turkey, Özer, alongside his two siblings, faced trial in Istanbul. They were charged with leading a criminal organization, money laundering, and massive fraud. Despite Özer’s defence and claims about his genuine intentions behind establishing Thodex, the court delivered its historic verdict. Notably, Turkish courts are known for meting out such extraordinary jail terms. Past examples include cult leader Adnan Oktar’s 8,600-year sentence and Fethullah Gülen’s 1,900-year sentence.
Thodex Crash: Financial Ramifications
While initial reports speculated that Özer had fled with assets nearing $2 billion, the prosecution estimated the losses to Thodex investors at a then-equivalent of $43 million. Due to Turkey’s economic challenges, including the lira’s freefall and sharp inflation, the same sum is currently valued at approximately $13 million.
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