Thodex CEO Sentenced to Over 11,000 Years in Prison in Türkiye

On Thursday, Faruk Fatih Özer, the former CEO of Thodex, once one of Turkey's most prominent crypto exchanges, was sentenced to an astounding 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Thodex CEO Sentenced to Over 11,000 Years in Prison in Türkiye
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On Thursday, Faruk Fatih Özer, the former CEO of Thodex, once one of Türkiye's most prominent crypto exchanges, was sentenced to an astounding 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison. This sentence – lengthier than the time since the last ice age ended, roughly 11,000 years ago – came as a result of his role in defrauding customers of an estimated $2 billion in cryptocurrencies.

In April 2021, Thodex unexpectedly closed its virtual doors, leaving over 400,000 members in the lurch without access to their financial assets. Not long after this dramatic closure, Özer vanished from the public eye.

The Hunt and the Trial

The aftermath of Thodex's sudden collapse created tremors throughout Türkiye, a nation where many had turned to cryptocurrencies as a safety net against the soaring inflation and the plunging lira.

With such a significant financial void created, international law enforcement agencies sprang into action. After Interpol issued a red warrant for his capture, Özer was eventually arrested in Albania, marking the beginning of a landmark trial.

The court in Istanbul found him guilty on multiple counts, including fraud, running a criminal organization, and money laundering. Furthermore, the court ruled that Thodex was, from its inception, a criminal organization. In addition to Özer's staggering sentence, his two siblings were also handed prison terms.

Özer's defense was a notable feature of the trial. State media captured his assertion: "I am smart enough to lead any institution on Earth," adding, "That is evident in this company I established at the age of 22." He further emphasized that had his intentions been criminal from the outset, he would not have approached his actions so "amateurishly."

Comparative Sentences: Not the First in Turkey

For those unfamiliar with the Türkiye's justice system, a multi-millennial prison sentence might appear excessively punitive.

However, this isn't the first instance of such a lengthy sentencing. In 2016, Fethullah Gülen, an adversary of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, received a sentence of 1,900 years for his alleged role in a failed coup attempt.

Another striking case saw Adnan Oktar, a cult leader convicted of multiple crimes, including assault, being sentenced to over 8,600 years in prison. Such punitive sentences highlight Turkey's stringent stance on high-profile criminal offenses and serve as a warning for potential perpetrators.

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