Turkey seeks to arrest crypto boss over huge fraud, detains dozens
ISTANBUL: Turkey issued an international arrest warrant on Friday April 23 against the founder of a cryptocurrency exchange who leaked with $ 2 billion in investor assets, state media reported.
Police also arrested 62 people in raids on their alleged links to Thodex, the company run by fugitive businessman Faruk Fatih Ozer.
He is wanted for “fraud using information systems, banks or credit institutions as a tool and creating a criminal organization,” the Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkish security officials on Thursday released a photo of Ozer passing passport control at Istanbul airport as he drove to an unknown location.
Security sources later confirmed that the 27-year-old Ozer had been in Albania since Tuesday.
The Justice Ministry has initiated legal proceedings to demand his arrest and extradition from the Albanian capital Tirana, Anadolu reported.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu spoke by phone with his Albanian counterpart about the case, the agency added.
The Thodex exchange suspended operations after publishing a mysterious message on Wednesday saying it took five days to deal with unspecified outside investment.
According to media reports, the exchange was closed while holding at least US $ 2 billion from 391,000 investors.
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FREEZE ON BANK ACCOUNTS
The 62 suspects were apprehended in simultaneous raids in eight cities, including Turkey’s main hub, Istanbul, Anadolu reported.
Police raided the company’s headquarters on the Asian side of Istanbul and seized computers and digital equipment, reports said.
Authorities also imposed a temporary freeze on Ozer’s bank accounts, according to Anadolu.
Police also issued arrest warrants for 16 other people, Anadolu said, without giving further details. There was no immediate information on those detained.
Investor attorney Oguz Evren Kilic said on Friday that the Thodex investigation “is deepening.”
“Hundreds of thousands of users cannot access their digital wallets. The situation will become more serious if a concrete measure is not taken” by Thodex, he told AFP by telephone.
Kilic said his clients have already filed complaints with the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul and other cities.
In a message posted to the company’s official Twitter account on Thursday, Ozer criticized the “baseless allegations” against him.
He said he was abroad for meetings with foreign investors and would return home “in a few days and cooperate with the judicial authorities so that the truth can come out.”
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“I WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, HELP”
The number of complaints against Thodex increased by more than 1,160% in the week ending April 20 compared to the previous week, according to Turkish customer complaints website Sikayetvar.
An investor who reached Sikayetvar said: “I have been unemployed for a year. I trusted Thodex and invested everything I have … I cannot sleep or eat. beg, please help me. “
Another said: “Why is the CEO of Thodex silent? Why do they victimize people. Are you kidding us?
A growing number of Turks are turning to cryptocurrencies in an effort to protect their economies in the face of a sharp drop in the value of the Turkish Lira and high inflation.
Turkey’s crypto market remains unregulated despite growing skepticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government about its security.
Turkey’s central bank announced last week that it would ban the use of cryptocurrencies in payments for goods and services from April 30.
He warned that cryptocurrencies “carry significant risk” as the market is volatile and lacks oversight.