The Strategist

Founder of Turkish crypto-exchange goes missing with $2B investor money

04/26/2021 - 04:05

The Turkish general prosecutor's office has launched an international search for the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Thodex. According to local media reports, he fled the country, taking $2bn of investors' funds with him. Sixty-two people have been detained in the case.

Turkey has launched an international search for the CEO of local cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Özer, and issued an Interpol red notice on him, Anadolu Agency reported.

As reported by Turkey's DHA news agency, the top manager left Turkey with $2 billion of investors' money in cryptocurrency. Turkey believes Özer took refuge in Albania and intends to demand his extradition. A Turkish judge has issued an arrest warrant for "setting up an organisation to commit fraud and crime by using information systems, banks or credit institutions as tools", Anadolu writes. According to the Interior Ministry, Özer flew to Tirana from Istanbul on 20 April.

The Istanbul Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation on April 22 - after the first media reports on the businessman's flight. Sixty-two suspects have been detained, with prosecutors issuing warrants for a total of 78 people - 16 more are wanted, Anadolu claims. Several addresses linked to the company, including Thodex's headquarters, were searched and documents and materials were seized.

Thodex abruptly halted trading on April 21, Bloomberg wrote. In a statement on its website, the exchange said it would not be operating for five business days and that users need not worry. Thodex attributed the suspension to receiving an investment - but it did not specify from whom. Özer did not respond to Bloomberg's mobile calls during business hours.

On 22 April, the exchange announced that it lacked the financial backing to continue operations. Thodex released a statement from Özer on Thursday in which he promised to return the money to investors and then return to Turkey to answer to the law. Özer's location was not specified in the statement. Özer said 30,000 users had been affected by the exchange's problems. The Haberturk newspaper wrote that Thodex had 391,000 active users and cited an estimate of possible damages of $2 billion. Özer called this figure unsubstantiated.


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