In a dramatic court appearance in Turkey, Faruk Fetih Özer, the founder of the now-defunct Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, vehemently denied all fraud allegations against him. The 29-year-old entrepreneur, who had allegedly fled the country following the suspension of trading services and the shutdown of Thodex’s official website, faced accusations of embezzling over $2 billion in users’ funds, marking the largest cryptocurrency scam in Turkey’s history.
Reports indicate that Özer was detained in Albania last summer and subsequently deported to Turkey, where a legal process will determine his involvement in the exchange’s collapse and his potential prison sentence.
During an extensive 11-hour hearing, Özer refuted the claims of defrauding numerous Thodex customers and draining their assets, asserting that he had been framed. He revealed that his company’s initial focus was e-commerce but later shifted its direction to the intriguing world of cryptocurrencies. Özer explained that he began engaging in mobile transactions with software developers he added to his team, immersing himself in the digital realm to establish a cryptocurrency exchange.
Özer highlighted Turkey’s lack of proper crypto companies in 2017 as another reason for Thodex’s foray into the digital asset universe. He maintained that the company’s transactions were executed automatically while he was the authorized person responsible for supervising the activities. Özer reviewed weekly transactions from the company platform to the banks, ensuring no security vulnerabilities.
Furthermore, Özer claimed that some of his employees, including two of his siblings, were unlawfully imprisoned. He also emphasized that the initial membership agreement clearly stated that he should not be held accountable for any future damages, with clients using the company’s services aware of the associated risks.
The sudden cessation of Thodex’s trading services in the spring of 2021 left the firm’s 400,000 customers shocked and unable to withdraw their funds. Compounding the issue, CEO Özer was reluctant to address the problem and did not cooperate with domestic authorities. Instead, he fled the country, reportedly absconding with more than $2 billion of users’ money. His whereabouts remained unknown for over a year, with rumors suggesting he could be hiding in Albania. However, the fugitive was eventually apprehended in August 2022, prompting the Turkish authorities to pursue his extradition and commence legal proceedings against him.
If found guilty, Özer faces the possibility of an astonishing sentence exceeding 40,000 years in jail.