Thodex Founder: I Was Framed

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  • Thodex founder Faruk Fetih Özer has claimed that wasn’t behind the theft of $2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies from the exchange
  • Özer claimed in his first hearing since his arrest that he had been framed
  • He was arrested in Albania last year after disappearing when the exchange shuttered in 2021

Faruk Fetih Özer, the founder of the defunct Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, has claimed that he was set up and that he didn’t steal more than $2 billion worth of customer funds. Özer, who was arrested in Albania in 2022 after more than a year on the run, said someone else must have stolen the funds, although he didn’t state who, and also tried to paint the picture that he was the only one doing things properly on the platform.

Thodex Left Users High and Dry

Thodex was a prominent Turkish exchange with nearly 400,000 users, but experienced a prolonged outage following unplanned maintenance in April 2021. Concern grew among customers as the exchange failed to come back online, and it was later revealed that the exchange’s founder, Özer, had fled the country, potentially taking $2 billion of users’ funds with him.

Turkish authorities apprehended 83 individuals associated with Thodex, including Özer’s siblings, and issued an international arrest warrant for Özer. He was eventually located in Vlora, Albania and brought back to Turkey through extradition proceedings. 

According to local media, in his first hearing over the alleged theft, Özer claimed the accusations that he defrauded Thodex customers and drained their assets were false, and that he was trying to operate the platform properly:

I personally checked the transaction made on the company platform to the banks every week in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. I was the only one doing this to ensure there were no security holes.

40,000-Year Prison Sentence Awaits

Özer maintained that some of his former staff, including two of his siblings, were “unlawfully” imprisoned and added that he had an agreement in place that meant he should not be held responsible for any damage that might occur on the platform, saying that the clients who used the company’s services were aware of that risks to their funds.

Özer and his cohorts face charges of fraud and money laundering, with authorities estimating the damages caused to be over 350 million Turkish liras, approximately $20 million. The founder himself faces a staggering 40,000 years in jail if found guilty.