Albanian authorities have ordered the extradition of the fugitive founder of the Thodex crypto exchange back to Turkey.
An Elbasan court decided that Faruk Fatih Özer, founder of crypto exchange Thodex, will return to Turkey to face justice. The 27-year-old is accused of absconding with users’ funds, when they reported being unable to withdraw them last year.
In Aug., authorities in Vlorë managed to apprehend Özer. At this point the fugitive crypto exchange founder had been at large for over a year.
The Court of First Instance in Elbasan determined Özer should remain in detention in Sept. Although his lawyers soon appealed, the Court of Appeals in Durrës, Albania’s second-largest city, upheld the order.
Now, after several hearings over the course of Oct. and Nov., the Court has handed down the judgment of extradition. Özer’s lawyers have 15 days to appeal the decision to the Durres Court of Appeals.
Thodex Scandal and the Missing $2B
Last year, Thodex users said they were unable to withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies from the exchange. Many users soon found legal representation and filed a fraud complaint against the exchange and its executives.
In response, the exchange made an announcement reporting a temporary closure due to an “abnormal fluctuation in the company accounts.” However, Özer, who had been unresponsive, allegedly fled the country with $2 billion in users funds. Initial reports indicated that he had likely made his way to Albania.
Turkish authorities subsequently issued an international arrest warrant for Özer, charging him with fraud and establishing a criminal organization. Interpol then issued a red notice for the Thodex founder in April this year.
Turkish authorities arrested 68 suspects, including Özer’s siblings, as part of its investigation into Thodex over the past year. Some 21 defendants could potentially face sentences of up to 40,564 years.
Turkish Authorities Investigating FTX
Meanwhile, as Turkish authorities conclude one case of crypto fraud, they are faced with another on a larger scale. Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Agency said that it is investigating FTX and its operations within the country earlier this week.
Within the scope of its duties, the agency said, it is “analyzing and examining the activities of these obliged parties.” They may include people, institutions, banks and crypto service providers related to FTX, including local subsidiary FTX Turkey.
This adds Turkey to the growing list of national authorities probing the actions of FTX since its downfall and bankruptcy.
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