Turkey: Crypto boss sentenced to over 11,000 years in jail over money laundering
A Turkish cryptocurrency founder has been sentenced to 11,196 years in jail on charges of money laundering, fraud and establishing a criminal organisation.
Faruk Fatih Ozer, head of cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, had been missing since 2021 after his company went offline before he was arrested in Albania last year.
Prosecutors said Ozer had, at the time, transferred 250 million lira in user assets - around $30m at the time - to three secret accounts, with much of it ending up in a Malta bank.
More than 400,000 members of Thodex were left without access to deposits of a combined $2bn in cryptocurrencies.
His two brothers received the same sentence on Thursday, though prosecutors had initially requested 40,562-year sentences.
"If I were to establish a criminal organisation, I would not have acted so amateurishly," Ozer told the court.
A deep slide in the value of the lira that began several years ago saw many Turks turning to crypocurrency as an alternative, though recent legislation has stymied its use.
Ozer managed to attain a high profile in Turkey and was pictured alongside a number of government figures, including former foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and former interior minister Suleyman Soylu.
However, both denied knowing him after the pictures were released.