Faruk Fatih Özer, the founder of the now-defunct Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, has been sentenced to 11,196 years, ten months, and 15 days for defrauding 400,000 users of over $2 billion in cryptocurrencies.
According to local media, Faruk was sentenced alongside his older sister Serap Özer and older brother Güven Özer, and they will serve the same jail term. The Anatolian Ninth High Criminal Court also imposed a judicial fine of 135 million liras ($5 million) on the trio.
Thodex Founder Finally Sentenced to Jail
Özer was arrested in August 2022 after Interpol issued a red notice against him. He fled Turkey for Albania after Thodex suddenly ceased operations in 2021. The founder made several excuses for leaving customers in the dark – from an undefined investment that required a pause in trading activities to a cyber attack that led to the loss of assets.
After his arrest in Albania, the 29-year-old was extradited to Turkey in April to face fraud charges alongside 21 other defendants. He denied the accusations brought against him during his first trial in June, claiming he was framed.
In July, Özer was sentenced to seven months and 15 days in jail for failing to submit certain documents to the Turkish Tax Inspection Board. CryptoPotato reported that the magistrates had initially sentenced him to one and a half years of imprisonment but later reduced the punishment based on his behavior, social relations, and potential impact on his future.
Özer Insists Thodex Went Bankrupt
During the most recent trial, prosecutors accused Özer of establishing and managing Thodex to deceive and defraud users using information systems, banks, and credit institutions as tools. Seven of his fellow defendants were accused of being company and cooperative managers who laundered the proceeds of the crime.
In his defense, Özer claimed his family was experiencing injustice during the trial. He insisted that Thodex went bankrupt and would not have acted so amateur if he wanted to form a criminal organization.
“There is no mention of a criminal organization in Thodex. 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,” Özer said.
While the 21 defendants faced up to 40,564 years in prison during the trial, the court acquitted 16 of them and released four due to lack of evidence. The remaining defendants landed various jail sentences.