Turkey launches international hunt for crypto exchange Thodex CEO

Rick Steves

The $2bn crypto trading scandal in Turkey, which Mr. Ozer claims to be “baseless”, comes days after the Turkish central bank announced a ban on cryptocurrency payments.

Turkey has issued an international arrest warrant for Faruk Fatih Ozer, the founder of cryptocurrency trading Thodex.

According to the country’s state media, Mr. Ozer fled to Albania with an alleged $2bn from 391,000 investors although he has already come forth and called the allegations against him “baseless”.

He claimed to be abroad for meetings with foreign investors and that he would return “in a few days and cooperate with judicial authorities so that the truth can come out”.

It’s been reported that on Wednesday, the platform posted a “mysterious message” saying it needed five days to handle an unspecified outside investment. Mr. Ozer was then seen at Istanbul Airport traveling to an undisclosed location.

Trading at the platform stopped and investors started to contact the authorities. Complaints against the crypto exchange skyrocketed by more than 1,160% compared to the previous week.

Turkish authorities have raided places in eight Turkish cities and arrested 62 people over alleged connections to Thodex. Authorities had warrants to arrest 78 suspects in total.

The Turkish Central Bank has recently announced a ban on cryptocurrency payments in the country. From 30 April, residents in Turkey will be unable to legally pay for goods and services with digital assets.

The “Regulation on the Disuse of Crypto Assets in Payments” addresses the increasing lack of confidence in the Turkish Lira, with the people turning to cryptocurrencies to protect their savings from inflation.

Arguing for the ban on crypto payments, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) stated: “Crypto assets entail significant risks to the relevant parties due to the following reasons:

they are neither subject to any regulation and supervision mechanisms nor a central regulatory authority,
their market values can be excessively volatile,
they may be used in illegal actions due to their anonymous structures,
wallets can be stolen or used unlawfully without the authorization of their holders, and
transactions are irrevocable.

“Recently, some initiatives have emerged regarding the use of these assets in payments. It is considered that their use in payments may cause non-recoverable losses for the parties to the transactions due to the above-listed factors and they include elements that may undermine the confidence in methods and instruments used currently in payments”, the central bank added.

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