The founder and CEO of a Turkish crypto exchange that collapsed in 2021 has been arrested by Turkish authorities in Istanbul after being deported from Albania, where he was captured last year.
Faruk Fatih Ozer, who ran Thodex, a crypto trading platform that shut down in 2021, leaving thousands of investors unable to access their funds, was detained at Istanbul Airport on April 20 by Turkish law enforcement.
Ozer stole millions from customers
Ozer has been accused of defrauding thousands of investors and laundering millions of dollars through his platform, Thodex. The exchange’s CEO fled to Albania after Thodex halted operations, claiming that he would meet foreign investors to secure funding for the exchange.
He also said he would cooperate with Turkish authorities and return the money to the customers. However, Ozer later changed his story and said he was a victim of a cyberattack that wiped out most of the exchange’s assets.
His disappearance sparked a criminal investigation and an international manhunt, as well as protests by angry investors who feared they had lost their savings.
Thodex was one of Turkey’s largest crypto exchanges, with over 400,000 users and a daily trading volume of around $585 million.
Ozer loses extradition battle
Ozer was detained in August 2021 in Albania’s capital, Tirana, where he lived under a false identity. He then fought a legal battle against his extradition to Turkey but lost his appeal earlier this month.
Ozer arrived in Istanbul on Thursday and was taken into custody by the police. He faces charges of managing a criminal organization, aggravated fraud, and money laundering. He could face up to 75,000 years in prison if convicted.
The total losses incurred by Thodex’s customers are still unclear, but some estimates suggest that they could be as high as $2.6 billion. Ozer’s arrest comes only weeks after former Terra boss Do Kwon was caught in Podgorica, Serbia, after months on the run.
According to an indictment unsealed at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 23, Kwon faces several counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and commodities fraud.