Former Thodex crypto exchange CEO, Faruk Fatih Özer, has been handed an astonishing 11,196-year prison sentence by a Turkish court. This verdict is a culmination of charges including “establishing, managing, and being a member of an organization,” “qualified fraud,” and “laundering of property values.”

Sudden Collapse and Fugitive Founder

Thodex had established itself as a major player in the Turkish crypto landscape. However, this was until it sent shockwaves through the industry in 2021. Without warning, the exchange ceased all operations, leaving its users stunned and alarmed.

Also, to make matters worse, the founder disappeared from the country with $2 billion in users’ crypto assets. Özer, at the time, vehemently denied any allegations of an exit scam.

Detention, Extradition and The Court’s Verdict

Former Thodex crypto exchange CEO, Faruk Fatih Özer in court

The fugitive CEO’s international escapade finally came to an end when he was apprehended in Albania in August 2022. Subsequently, Özer was extradited to Turkey in April 2023, facing charges of fraud and money laundering. It’s worth noting that Özer was already in jail due to a separate tax-related case since July, and his latest conviction adds to his legal woes.

The Turkish judicial system delivered its verdict, sentencing Özer and his two siblings to 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison. Additionally, they were slapped with a $5 million fine according to local report. These severe penalties underscore the gravity of the allegations.

Özer’s Defense

However, in a dramatic courtroom moment, Özer protested his innocence. He claimed that he and his family were victims of an unjust system. He also argued that Thodex’s collapse was merely the result of bankruptcy and not a premeditated criminal act. In his own words:

“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. What is in question is It is clear that the suspects in the file have been victims for more than 2 years.”

Verdict for Co-Defendants

Notably, this protracted legal battle involved 21 defendants, with five appearing in court in person. Ultimately, 16 defendants were acquitted of “qualified fraud” due to insufficient evidence, while four were ordered to be released. The remaining defendants received various sentences based on their level of involvement in the alleged fraud.

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