Turkish Cryptocurrency Boss and Siblings Jailed for Defrauding Investors
ANAKARA: A Turkish cryptocurrency boss and his two siblings have been sentenced to 11,196 years in jail each for defrauding investors of millions of dollars. Faruk Fatih Ozer, 29, fled to Albania in 2021 after his Thodex exchange suddenly collapsed, taking investor assets with him. He was extradited back to Turkey in June and found guilty of money-laundering, fraud, and organized crime.
Claims of Innocence
Ozer claimed in court that he would not have acted so amateurishly if his intent was criminal. He stated, “I am smart enough to lead any institution on Earth,” referring to the company he established at the age of 22.
Guilty Verdict for Siblings
Ozer’s sister, Serap, and brother, Guven, were also found guilty of the same charges in the brief trial held in Istanbul. Turkish news agencies reported that the defendants were sentenced separately for multiple crimes against 2,027 victims, resulting in the total number of years in the judgement.
Extraordinary Prison Sentences
Extraordinary prison sentences are common in Turkey since the abolition of the death penalty in 2004. Adnan Oktar, a TV cult preacher, was previously jailed for 8,658 years in 2022 for fraud and sex crimes, with ten of his followers receiving the same sentence.
Thodex Exchange and Ozer’s Rise to Fame
Thodex, founded in 2017, became one of Turkey’s largest exchanges for virtual currencies. Ozer gained national fame as a financial whizz and managed to befriend prominent pro-government figures. However, the platform suddenly collapsed in April 2021, leading to the disappearance of investor assets and Ozer going into hiding.
Arrest and Extradition
Ozer was arrested in Albania on an international warrant from Interpol and was extradited to Turkey after a lengthy legal process.
Estimated Losses and Inflation
Previous reports suggested that Ozer had fled with assets worth $2 billion. However, the prosecutor’s indictment estimates the total losses to Thodex investors at 356 million liras, which was approximately $43 million at the time of the exchange’s implosion. Due to rampant inflation and the lira’s collapse on the international markets, the same amount is now worth about $13 million.