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Members of the team of the now-defunct Turkish crypto exchange Thodex may face thousands of years in prison if the court backs the prosecutor’s plea in the case. The CEO of the trading platform has been nowhere to be found for the past year since Thodex suspended activities in a suspected exit scam.
Faruk Fatih Ozer – founder and chief executive of the crypto exchange Thodex – and another 20 people involved in its operations should each get up to 40,564 years of jail time, according to a Turkish prosecutor.
The indictment was quoted by the Demiroren news agency and Hurriyet about a year after the platform halted all trading activities. The defendants are accused of establishing a criminal organization, multiple counts of fraud, and laundering of proceeds from illicit activities.
The 28-year-old Ozer has been missing since last year and is still wanted on a red alert from Interpol, despite efforts by Turkish law enforcement to locate him in several countries. He was last seen on footage from Istanbul airport, which emerged a year ago.
According to local media reports at the time, Ozer fled to Albania with $2 billion of their money. In a statement issued from an unknown location in April 2021, he pledged to repay customers and return to his home country to face justice, Bloomberg cited in a report.
The Turkish indictment quotes losses of 356 million lira ($24 million). However, according to an estimate in a Chainalysis report published in January, the figure should be much higher — $2.6 billion. The blockchain forensics company claims:
“We should note that roughly 90% of the total value lost to rug pulls in 2021 can be attributed to one fraudulent centralized exchange, Thodex, whose CEO disappeared soon after the exchange halted users’ ability to withdraw funds”.
More than 60 people were detained and six jailed after Thodex collapsed. Turkish authorities launched fraud investigations against it and another Turkish trading platform, Vebitcoin, which also ceased operations after the central bank of Turkey prohibited the use of cryptocurrencies for payments. Also in October, another major Turkish exchange – Coinzo, also terminated its crypto trading services.