The founder of a Turkish cryptocurrency platform, Faruk Fatih Ozer, along with his two siblings, has been sentenced to 11,196 years in prison each for swindling investors out of millions of dollars. In 2021, Ozer, 29, escaped to Albania with significant investor funds following the abrupt shutdown of his Thodex exchange. He was subsequently extradited to Turkey in June and convicted of charges including money laundering, fraud, and involvement in organized crime.
During the trial, Ozer defended himself by stating that he wouldn’t have been so naive in his actions if he had criminal intentions. He was quoted by the Turkish Anadolu agency, emphasizing his capabilities by bragging, “I am smart enough to lead any institution on Earth,” highlighting the fact that he founded his company at just 22 years old. His siblings, Serap and Guven, were also found culpable of the same offenses during the trial in Istanbul.
The cumulative years in the sentence result from individual charges for crimes committed against 2,027 victims. Such extensive prison terms have become more prevalent in Turkey since the country abolished capital punishment in 2004.
For context, in 2022, Adnan Oktar, a Turkish television preacher, received a sentence of 8,658 years for various offenses, including fraud. Ten of his associates were handed identical sentences. The prosecution had initially proposed a staggering 40,562-year sentence for Ozer. The popularity of cryptocurrencies in Turkey surged as a protective measure against the declining value of the lira over the past couple of years.
Established in 2017, Thodex quickly became one of Turkey’s leading crypto exchanges. Ozer, recognized as a financial prodigy, built connections with notable figures supportive of the government. However, the platform faced a sudden collapse in April 2021. Investor assets vanished along with Ozer, who fled to Albania, where he was apprehended due to an Interpol warrant and was subsequently extradited.
While initial reports from Turkish media suggested Ozer absconded with assets amounting to $2 billion, the official indictment approximated the losses for Thodex investors at 356 million liras. This sum was equivalent to around $43 million during the exchange’s downfall but has since depreciated to approximately $13 million due to inflation and the lira’s devaluation in global markets.