In a recent development, a Turkish court has sentenced Faruk Fatih Ozer, the founder of Thodex, a failed crypto exchange, to a staggering 11,196 years in prison. Ozer, along with his two siblings, received similar jail times on Thursday after being found guilty of fraud and other charges. Ozer, who dropped out of high school, had established Thodex in 2017.
Thodex had quickly become one of Turkey's largest cryptocurrency exchanges before announcing in April 2021 that it could no longer continue operations. Ozer subsequently fled to Albania, promising to repay investors before returning to Turkey. However, after a lengthy legal battle, he was eventually extradited back to his home country.
The court found Ozer guilty of leading a criminal organization, aggravated fraud, and money laundering. Prosecutors estimate that Thodex's downfall resulted in approximately $13 million in investor losses, although some Turkish media outlets have reported the losses to be as high as $2 billion.
During the court proceedings, Ozer claimed, "I am smart enough to lead any institution on Earth," and defended his actions, stating that he wouldn't have acted "amateurishly" if his company were involved in criminal activities.
This sentencing comes at a time when another prominent figure in the crypto world, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX and Alameda Research, is awaiting trial. Bankman-Fried's crypto exchange collapsed in November 2022, leading to a series of bankruptcies and causing some to refer to it as crypto's "Lehman moment."
Bankman-Fried reportedly plans to pay up to $1,200 an hour to seven expert witnesses to testify on his behalf during his trial. Additionally, his attorney has alleged that he does not have access to necessary medication in prison and is surviving on a diet of bread, water, and peanut butter.
These cases highlight the potential risks and challenges associated with the cryptocurrency industry. As the sector continues to grow, it is crucial for regulators and investors to ensure proper oversight and due diligence to protect against fraudulent activities and potential losses.