Thodex Founder Faruk Özer Arrested in Albania

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  • The fugitive founder of Turkish exchange Thodex has been arrested in Albania
  • Faruk Özer shuttered the exchange last year and fled, potentially with up to $2 billion in user funds
  • Özer was arrested in Albania and will be handed to Turkish authorities

The founder of the Turkish crypto platform Thodex, which went dark in April last year leaving users empty handed, has been arrested in Albania. Founder and CEO Faruk Fatih Özer fled Turkey in the wake of the collapse, allegedly with $2 billion of investors’ assets, leaving six of his cohorts to be arrested. A red notice was issued by Interpol for Özer, who Albanian police apprehended this week and who will now be handed over to Turkish authorities to face trial.

Thodex Went Dark After ‘Maintenance’

Thodex was a popular exchange in Turkey that had been operating since 2017 and had a good reputation, which was why when it announced urgent maintenance in April last year users were not overly concerned.

However, rather than coming back online following ‘maintenance’, Thodex instead went offline, leaving the exchange’s approximately 400,000 users to worry about the status of their funds. And well they might – Turkish police confirmed that Özer had left the country, potentially with access to as much as $2 billion of users’ money.

A week later, 83 individuals associated with the exchange were detained, with six formally arrested pending a trial, with some of Özer’s siblings among those arrested. Turkey’s international request warrant and Interpol’s red notice seems to have done the trick, with Özer traced to the city of Vlora and his identity confirmed by biometric data.

Prison Awaits for Özer

Turkish prosecutors are seeking prison sentences totaling thousands of years for Thodex’s founders and other members of its executive team over the abandonment of the exchange. Charges centre around committing fraud and money laundering, with authorities asserting that the damages from their activities exceeded an estimated 350 million Turkish liras (close to $20 million).

It remains to be seen if Özer’s arrest will lead to Thodex customers being able to get any of their money back.