A digital currency exchange CEO who has been on the run for months could face a 40,000 + years prison sentence in Turkey. In a new indictment, a Turkish prosecutor also recommended similar sentences for other executives of the defunct Thodex exchange accused of being behind the biggest digital currency scam of 2021.
The prosecutor unveiled the indictment late last week, Bloomberg reports, citing local outlet Demiroren News Agency. It seeks sentences of 40,564 years for each of the 21 defendants in the state’s case against Thodex, including CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer.
Ozer has been on the run for a year now, disappearing after Thodex sunk with billions of dollars worth of digital assets. He was last seen in camera footage at Istanbul airport in April 2021. Since then, Turkish police have flown to four different countries, including Albania, in a bid to capture the 28-year to no avail. He remains wanted with a red notice by Interpol.
According to the indictment, Thodex went down with 356 million liras ($24 million) in user funds. However, as CoinGeek reported, research by Chainalysis found that the exchange sunk with over $2.6 billion in what was the biggest scam in the industry last year. Thodex alone accounted for 90% of the funds that investors lost to rug pulls in 2021, the prosecutor alleges.
The defendants are accused of fraud through informatics systems, establishing a criminal organization, and laundering proceeds from criminal activity.
The trouble for Thodex started in mid-April when it announced that its website would go down for a few days, blaming the outage on a sales process. Users were left with little to clutch onto. Shortly after, one lawyer filed a lawsuit against the exchange for aggravated fraud, kickstarting an investigation into Thodex that unearthed massive fraud and mismanagement of user funds.
At the time, investigators claimed Thodex had gone down with over $2 billion from 400,000 clients.
Ozer, the CEO, quickly fled the country and was rumored to be in Albania, although this has yet to be proven. Before fleeing, he claimed to have contemplated giving himself up to authorities and even committing suicide but decided against both.
“So I decided to stay alive and fight, work and repay my debts to you. The day I repay all my debt, I will return to my country and give myself in to justice,” he claimed.
Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—a from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, Blockstream, ShapeShift, Coinbase, Ripple,
Ethereum, FTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.
New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.