Former Chief Executive of Thodex, the collapsed Turkey-based cryptocurrency exchange, Faruk Fatih Özer, has been sentenced to a staggering 11,196 years in prison. This comes after Özer was found guilty of stealing approximately $2 billion from his clients, leaving over 400,000 individuals without access to their funds.
Thodex was once one of Turkey’s leading digital currency trading platforms before abruptly going offline in April 2021, with Özer disappearing shortly after. Interpol issued a red notice for his arrest, suspecting him of leaving the country. He was eventually apprehended in Albania.
The court in Istanbul announced the unprecedented verdict, sentencing Özer on various charges including fraud, leading a criminal organization, and money laundering. Özer’s siblings, who are believed to have been accomplices, also received prison sentences.
The collapse of Thodex has sent shockwaves throughout Turkey and the broader crypto markets. Turkey has faced significant levels of inflation in recent years, with the Turkish Lira hitting record lows against the USD. Cryptocurrency has become a popular alternative for locals seeking to safeguard their savings from hyperinflation and the devaluation of the national fiat currency.
While an 11,000+ year prison term may seem extraordinary, it is not uncommon in countries like Turkey. In 2016, Fethullah Gülen, a religious leader and political opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, received a 1,900-year prison sentence for his involvement in a failed coup. Similarly, cult leader Adnan Oktar was sentenced to over 8,600 years in prison for crimes including sexual assault.
The Thodex case highlights the importance of regulation and oversight in the cryptocurrency industry. With the increasing popularity and value of digital currencies, authorities around the world are working to establish frameworks that protect investors and prevent fraudulent activities.
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