Faruk Fatih Özer, the former CEO and founder of the now-defunct Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, has been handed a colossal sentence of 11,196 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison, along with a $5 million fine.
According to local media sources, this severe punishment was meted out by a Turkish court on Thursday, following Özer’s conviction on charges of aggravated fraud, leading a criminal organization, and money laundering.
Özer’s two siblings, who played significant roles in managing the ill-fated exchange, also faced a similar sentence.
Additionally, the court imposed a hefty fine of approximately 135 million Turkish Liras (roughly $5 million) on the convicted trio.
The Thodex trial, which garnered significant attention, involved a total of 21 defendants, who collectively faced the possibility of up to 40,564 years behind bars. However, 16 of the 21 defendants were acquitted, while four of the seven individuals who were initially incarcerated have been released due to insufficient evidence against them.
The remaining defendants received varying prison sentences for their involvement in the crypto exchange’s downfall.
Founded in 2017, Thodex had established itself as Turkey’s largest cryptocurrency exchange before its dramatic collapse.
The exchange’s shutdown left a staggering 400,000 users unable to access their cryptocurrency holdings, which amounted to nearly $2 billion.
Initially, Özer had attributed the exchange’s sudden closure to a pause required for an undisclosed external investment, which he claimed necessitated a four to five-day trading hiatus.
However, this narrative shifted when Özer cited cyberattacks as the reason behind the trading halt.
Strikingly, he asserted that customer funds remained secure and promised to reimburse affected investors.
Following Thodex’s collapse, Faruk Fatih Özer went into hiding and managed to escape to Albania.
Authorities finally tracked him down in Vlorë – a prominent coastal city in Albania – in August 2022.