The founder and CEO of Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Ozer, has been extradited from Albania to Turkey to face charges of defrauding investors. Ozer disappeared after his trading platform unexpectedly went offline in the spring of 2021, and he was later arrested by Albanian law enforcement. The Albanian Ministry of Justice acted on the order of the country’s Supreme Court to extradite Ozer to Turkey. He was taken into custody by Istanbul Airport Police Department upon arrival and is expected to undergo a health check-up. Ozer fled Turkey after the sudden collapse of Thodex two years ago, taking with him a reported $2 billion of investor money. Turkey issued an international arrest warrant for him in April 2021, and he was wanted with a red notice by Interpol.
Ozer has been fighting his detention in Albanian courts since his arrest on Aug. 30, 2022. The Elbasan Court of First Instance extended his detention on Sept. 2, and the Durres Court of Appeals upheld the decision on Sept. 20. In November, The Elbasan court authorized his extradition to Turkey, which was later approved by the Supreme Court in Tirana. Turkish authorities have charged 21 people in connection with the exchange out of over 60 detained during the investigation. Prosecutors seek prison sentences totaling thousands of years for the founders and executives accused of committing fraud and money laundering while pulling an exit scam.
Thodex had attracted around 400,000 users during the crypto boom in Turkey. The sudden collapse of the exchange had a significant impact on the country’s crypto market, leading to a sharp decline in trading volumes. The Turkish government responded by tightening regulations on cryptocurrency exchanges and implementing stricter KYC and AML requirements. The country has also been exploring the possibility of launching a central bank digital currency (CBDC) as an alternative to cryptocurrencies.
The case has attracted significant media attention in Turkey and beyond, with many investors calling for justice and the return of their lost funds. The extradition of Ozer is seen as a significant step towards holding those responsible for the Thodex scandal accountable. However, it remains to be seen whether Ozer will be convicted of his alleged crimes and what impact this will have on the wider crypto industry.
Lubomir Tassev, a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe, believes that the Thodex case highlights the need for greater transparency and accountability in the crypto industry. He argues that while cryptocurrencies offer many benefits, they also pose significant risks, particularly for inexperienced investors. Tassev suggests that regulators need to take a more proactive approach to combating fraud and protecting consumers, while also promoting innovation and competition in the sector.
In conclusion, the extradition of Faruk Fatih Ozer from Albania to Turkey to face charges of defrauding investors is a significant development in the Thodex scandal. The case has highlighted the need for greater transparency and accountability in the crypto industry, and regulators are likely to take a more proactive approach to combating fraud and protecting consumers in the future. While cryptocurrencies offer many benefits, they also pose significant risks, and investors need to be aware of these before investing their money.