The founder and CEO of Thodex, a Turkish crypto exchange dubbed by politicians as “the biggest fraud case in the history of the [Turkish] Republic,” has denied all charges in his first court appearance and claimed he was framed instead.
Faruk Fatih Özer and 21 other defendants are accused of fraud, money laundering, and running a crime ring. Özer reportedly fled to Albania with $2 billion in user funds back in 2021 and was arrested by local authorities in August 2022. In April this year, the founder was extradited to Turkey.
According to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Özer and his employees could face up to 12,164 to 40,564 years in prison combined. However, the Thodex CEO said in his first court appearance on Monday, “I was framed. I started my company and my company was hacked,” (via local media).
Özer also stressed to prosecutors that he had sole authority in company decisions and added that his sister, Serep Özer, didn’t have de facto authority at Thodex.
Thodex founder denies all charges
When Özer fled Turkey in 2021, supposedly with $2 billion of user funds, Turkish politician and human rights lawyer Sezgin Tanrıkulu described the incident as “the biggest fraud case in the history of the [Turkish] Republic.”
“[Özer] founded a company and turned people’s expectations into a fraud,” Tanrıkulu said at the time.
However, Thodex issued a statement on its website denying the allegations and claimed that it was the victim of a slander campaign. The firm said that Özer had simply left the country to secure partnerships abroad.
The firm’s questionable explanations weren’t enough to stop Interpol from issuing a red notice which ultimately led to Özer’s arrest in Albania. Sixty other Thodex employees were initially arrested, as well.
According to Özer, however, his team shouldn’t be facing trial. “There is no other authorized person in the company besides me. Thodex’s transactions with banks were carried out automatically. 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,” he explained.
The founder added, “It is a black mark on the legal system that my employees have been imprisoned for two years.”
Seven of the 21 defendants are currently in custody, including Özer.