The founder of Turkish cryptocurrency exchange, Thodex, Faruk Fatih Ozer, has finally been arrested after two years on the run. Ozer was detained by the Istanbul Airport Police Department on April 20, following his arrival at Istanbul Airport from the Albanian capital of Tirana. The 27-year-old is facing charges of fraud and money laundering relating to allegations of an exit scam involving at least $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency stolen from Thodex.
The saga of the Thodex exchange began on April 22, 2021, when the platform abruptly halted trading and withdrawals amid reports of police raids at its offices. Local publications speculated that the suspension was part of an exit scam involving Ozer, who was alleged to have fled Turkey with the stolen cryptocurrency. Interpol subsequently issued a red notice for Ozer, who reportedly ran to Albania.
About a year after Thodex collapsed, Ozer was arrested in Albania in August 2022, and Turkish authorities issued a warrant for his extradition. After several months of legal proceedings, Ozer was finally extradited to Turkey to face charges. The detained founder is expected to undergo health check-ups and then will be taken to the Istanbul Police Department for questioning.
Following the collapse of Thodex, Turkish police detained 62 people over alleged involvement in the exit scam, including some of the then-missing CEO’s siblings. The detainees were charged with fraud, money laundering, and membership of a criminal organization. Turkish authorities have been working with international law enforcement agencies to track down the missing funds, which have been reported to be in various cryptocurrency accounts and exchanges.
The Thodex saga highlights the risks associated with investing in unregulated cryptocurrencies, particularly in countries where the legal and regulatory framework is still evolving. The collapse of Thodex and the subsequent arrest of Ozer has sparked a debate in Turkey about the need for greater oversight and regulation of the cryptocurrency industry. The Turkish government is reportedly working on a new regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, which is expected to be unveiled later this year.
In conclusion, the arrest of Thodex founder Faruk Fatih Ozer marks a significant development in the ongoing investigation into the alleged exit scam involving the Turkish cryptocurrency exchange. While the recovery of the stolen funds remains a challenging task, the arrest of Ozer sends a strong message to other would-be cryptocurrency fraudsters that they cannot evade justice indefinitely.