Turkish cryptocurrency mogul sentenced to over 11,000 years in prison

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Faruk Fatih Ozer being escorted out of a police facility in Turkey by officers. — X/@Selene406
Faruk Fatih Ozer being escorted out of a police facility in Turkey by officers. — X/@Selene406

A Turkish cryptocurrency executive and his two siblings have been sentenced to a total of 11,196 years in prison for defrauding investors of millions of dollars, BBC reported on Saturday.

Faruk Fatih Ozer, 29, fled to Albania in 2021 after his Thodex exchange collapsed before he was extradited back to Turkey in June and found guilty of money laundering, fraud, and organised crime.

According to the Anadolu Agency, Ozer claimed: “I am smart enough to lead any institution on Earth. That is evident in this company I established at the age of 22.”

The Istanbul trial found his sister Serap and brother Guven guilty of the same charges and were sentenced separately for multiple crimes against 2,027 victims, leading to the total number of years in the judgment.

Since the death penalty was abolished in Turkey in 2004, unusual jail sentences like this have been rather prevalent.

A TV cult preacher named Adnan Oktar was sentenced to 8,658 years in prison in 2022 for fraud and sex offences while 10 of his supporters were given the same punishment.

According to AFP, prosecutors in Ozer’s case had asked for him to be sentenced to 40,562 years in prison.

Turks have adopted cryptocurrencies as a defence against a significant lira decline over two years ago, with the 2017-founded Thodex becoming one of the largest exchanges for virtual currencies in the country.

Ozer, a financial whiz, gained national fame by befriending pro-government figures. However, the platform imploded in April 2021, causing investor assets to disappear.

Ozer went into hiding and was arrested in Albania on an international warrant and extradited after an extensive legal process.

Turkish media reported Ozer fled with assets worth $2 billion. 

The prosecutor’s indictment estimates total losses to Thodex investors at 356 million liras, which was worth $43 million at the time of the exchange’s implosion but is now worth $13 million due to inflation and the lira’s collapse.

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