In a landmark ruling, the Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court in Turkey handed down a staggering 11,196-year prison sentence to Faruk Fatih Özer, the former CEO of the now-defunct Thodex cryptocurrency exchange. Özer faced a litany of charges, including “establishing, managing, and being a member of an organization,” “qualified fraud,” and “laundering of property values.”
The court didn’t stop there; it also imposed a hefty penalty of $5 million on Özer. This legal firestorm unfolded following Thodex’s abrupt collapse in 2021, leaving users in the lurch.
Özer’s siblings were also caught in the judicial crosshairs, receiving identical sentences for their alleged involvement in the crypto scandal. Thodex had once been a prominent cryptocurrency trading platform in Turkey before its sudden shutdown, which came without warning to its users.
The fallout from the exchange’s closure was significant. Özer fled the country with users’ assets, estimated to be worth as much as $2.6 billion. While some local news outlets pegged the figure at $2 billion, the prosecutor’s indictment placed it at 356 million Turkish liras, roughly $13 million.
The saga took an international twist when Özer was apprehended in Albania in August 2022. He was subsequently arrested and later deported to Turkey in April 2023.
Throughout the trial, Özer maintained his innocence, contending that he had been unfairly targeted. He portrayed Thodex as a legitimate cryptocurrency enterprise that had unfortunately failed. Özer boldly stated, “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.”
This complex legal battle involved a total of 21 defendants. Only five appeared in court personally, while 16 were cleared of “qualified fraud” charges due to insufficient evidence. Four defendants received orders for immediate release, while the remaining participants faced varying sentences based on their roles in the scam.
The Thodex case has captured international attention as a stark reminder of the cryptocurrency industry’s regulatory challenges. As the dust settles on this high-profile trial, the verdict sends a powerful message about accountability and the consequences of fraudulent activities within the crypto space.