Fugitive Founder of Turkish Crypto Exchange Thodex Arrested in Albania
Albanian authorities have detained the founder and chief executive of the Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, who allegedly fled Turkey with customer funds as the trading platform collapsed. Faruk Fatih Ozer was wanted for fraud with a red notice issued by Interpol.
Albania Captures Alleged Crypto Fraudster, Prepares to Hand Him Over to Turkish Judiciary
Police in Albania arrested 27-year-old Turkish businessman Faruk Fatih Ozer who founded and operated the now-defunct crypto exchange Thodex. Albanian law enforcement has been trying to locate him since he reportedly fled to the country with $2 billion of investors’ assets. Close to 400,000 people are believed to have suffered losses.
According to an announcement by Turkey’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, quoted by the Anadolu Agency and other Turkish media, the Minister of the Interior of Albania Bledar Çuçi informed his counterpart in Ankara, Süleyman Soylu, that Ozer was captured in the city of Vlora. His identity was confirmed by biometric data.
Ozer disappeared in 2021 following the shutdown of his coin trading platform which gained popularity during the crypto boom in Turkey where many were trying to protect their savings from the inflation of the Turkish lira which was rapidly depreciating. In April of last year, Turkey issued an international arrest warrant for him.
Turkish prosecutors seek prison sentences totaling thousands of years for Thodex’s founders and other members of its executive team suspected of halting trading as part of an exit scam. They are accused of committing fraud and money laundering, with authorities claiming that the damages from their activities exceeded an estimated 350 million Turkish liras (close to $20 million at current exchange rates).
The Turkish interior ministry said that Albania has already initiated the necessary procedures for Ozer’s extradition to Turkey. He is now being held in Elbasan, the Daily Sabah wrote, quoting a statement by the Albanian city’s prosecutor Kreshnik Ajazi for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). Ozer is expected to appear in court soon.
So far, more than 60 other people associated with Thodex have been detained as part of the investigation in Turkey. The Albanian police said that during its operation for Ozer’s arrest, a resident of Tirana and another person from Durrës were apprehended to determine their relations with the suspect. Laptop computers, mobile phones, bank cards, and other items were seized as evidence.
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Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
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