Turkey detains dozens over alleged cryptocurrency fraud

Istanbul-based cryptocurrency exchange founder fled with a reported $2 billion in investors' assets

AFP April 23, 2021
The opportunities for Bitcoin in China are “boundless” as the Chinese, famous for their big saving, are now using the cryptocurrency to save and invest, according to the co-founder of country’s largest exchange. PHOTO: AFP

Turkish authorities on Friday detained 62 people over alleged links to an Istanbul-based cryptocurrency exchange after its founder fled with a reported $2 billion in investors' assets, official media reported.

The suspects were apprehended in raids carried out in eight cities including Istanbul, the Anadolu news agency reported. Police issued arrest warrants for 16 other people.

There was no immediate information about the detainees.

The Thodex exchange suspended trading after posting a mysterious message on Wednesday saying it needed five days to deal with an unspecified outside investment.

Why does bitcoin use 10 times more electricity than Google

Reports said the exchange shut down while holding at least $2 billion from 391,000 investors.

Turkish security officials then released a photo of Thodex founder Faruk Fatih Ozer going through passport control at Istanbul airport on his way to an undisclosed location.

Security sources cited by HaberTurk television said he was in Albania.

Investors' lawyer Oguz Evren Kilic told AFP on Thursday that hundreds of thousands of users were unable to get access to their digital wallets.

"We have started the legal procedures and lodged a complaint at the prosecutor's office," he said.

Prosecutors were investigating the businessman on charges of "aggravated fraud and founding a criminal organisation".

Fears of Biden tax blow leave cryptocurrencies Ether, Bitcoin on the ropes

Police raided the company's headquarters on the Asian side of Istanbul and seized computers and digital materials, press reports revealed.

In a message on the company's Twitter account, Ozer said he was abroad for meetings with foreign investors and would return home "in a few days and cooperate with judicial authorities so that the truth can come out".

Growing numbers of Turks are turning to cryptocurrency in a bid to shield their savings in the face of a sharp decline in the value of the Turkish lira and high inflation.

The Turkish crypto market remains unregulated despite growing scepticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government about its safety.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ


Most Read