Faruk Fatih Ozer was wanted for a year on suspicion of fleeing to Albania with $2 billion in assets belonging to almost 400,000 users.
“I’ll be back in a few days,” he promised before disappearing: the founder of cryptocurrency exchange platform Thodex, suspected of fleeing Turkey with his clients’ assets last year, was arrested on Tuesday in Albania.
Faruk Fatih Ozer’s latest image shows a young businessman going through passport control at Istanbul Airport on April 20, 2021, wearing a black sweater and surgical mask on his way to an unknown destination.
“The Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Albania informed the Minister of the Interior, Suleiman Soil, in the morning that the founder of Thodex, the fugitive Faruk Fatih Ozer, has been put on a wanted list with a red notice. [d’Interpol]was arrested in the Vlora region of Albania,” the Turkish Interior Ministry said in a statement.
“His identity has been confirmed by biometric tests. Extradition procedures to Turkey have begun,” the ministry said in a statement. On April 23, 2021, Turkey requested an international arrest warrant for Faruk Fatih Ozer, who is suspected of having fled to Albania with $2 billion in assets belonging to almost 400,000 users.
Albanian police said the 28-year-old Turkish citizen was arrested around 6:30 am GMT on Tuesday at a hotel in Himare, a small town in southern Albania on the Ionian coast. Two other people suspected of helping him were arrested, and computers and mobile phones, as well as bank cards, were confiscated, Albanian police said in a statement.
“I’ll be back”
In a message posted on his company’s official Twitter account on April 22, 2021, two days after leaving Turkey, Mr. Ozer denounced the “baseless allegations” against him.
The day before, Thodex suspended operations after publishing a cryptic report that it was taking five days to process an unspecified outside investment. The entrepreneur then explained that he had gone abroad to meet with investors there.
“I will return to Turkey in a few days and will cooperate with the judiciary so that the truth comes out,” he promised then, before his trail disappeared for almost a year and a half. Thodex ran a major publicity campaign to attract investors, promising some of them to offer luxury cars.
The platform has also made impressive discounts on dogecoin, a cryptocurrency originally parody but has since been inflated by interest in, among other things, multibillionaire and Tesla boss Elon Musk. Sixty-two people associated with the company were arrested in April 2021 in eight Turkish cities, including Istanbul. Several countries, in particular the United States, have expressed a desire to strengthen the regulation of the cryptocurrency market, believing that the same laws should apply there as in other financial markets.
In recent years, many Turks have turned to cryptocurrencies to try to protect their savings from the sharp devaluation of the Turkish lira and inflation, which is approaching 80% in a year. As a result of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unorthodox monetary policy, the Turkish currency has lost almost 27% of its value against the dollar since January 1 after falling by 44% in 2021.