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CEO of Turkish Crypto Faruk Ozer Sentenced To 11,196 Years In jail

Turkish crypto founder, Faruk Fatih Özer, along with his sister Serap Ozer and his brother Guven Ozer, has been sentenced to 11,196 years in jail each, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported late Thursday.

A  judicial fine of 135 million liras ($5 million approximately) was also imposed

Prosecutors had asked that Faruk Ozer, be sentenced to 40,562 years in prison for money laundering, fraud and establishing a criminal organization.

The hearing at the Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court in Istanbul on Thursday was attended by five detained defendants, including Özer, some of the complainants and the lawyers of the parties.

“If I were to establish a criminal organization, I would not have acted so amateurishly”, AA quoted Özer as telling the court.

Thodex was one of Turkey’s largest crypto exchanges before it suddenly went offline in April 2021 and Özer went missing. Over 400,000 members were left in the dark without access to deposits of $2 billion in cryptocurrencies.

The collapse of Thodex created a stir in Turkey where crypto has been used as a hedge against sky-high inflation and the steep devaluation of the lira.

Ozer had fled to Albania but was arrested in August 2022 after an Interpol red notice against him.

He was extradited to Turkey in April 2023, and detained by police upon arrival on seven charges, including establishing and managing an organization with the purpose of committing a crime, being a member of an organization, fraud by using information systems as a tool of banks or credit institutions, fraud of merchants or company executives and cooperative managers, and laundering the value of assets resulting from crime.

Prosecutors said Özer had transferred over TL 250 million (worth about $30 million at the time) in user assets to three secret accounts when he fled Türkiye in April 2021, with much of the money ending up in a Malta bank.

The indictment said the Özer brothers had caused TL 356 million worth of overall damage to clients.

The case grabbed local headlines because it coincided with a Turkish crypto boom that has since largely subsided due to heavier government regulation. Turks began turning to various cryptocurrencies to safeguard against a decline in the value of the lira that began more than two years ago.

When the case came to light, Ozer’s brother, sister and four other senior employees were jailed and at least 83 people were detained as part of the investigation. The eventual trial saw 21 defendants facing up to 40,564 years in prison.

The Anatolian 9th Heavy Penal Court announced the verdict on Thursday, acquitting 16 of the 21 defendants and releasing four of the seven jailed due to a lack of evidence. 

Other defendants were given varying degrees of imprisonment for various crimes.



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