Turkey jails 6 in probe into missing Thodex crypto exchange CEO

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First, it was Mt Gox. Then, it was BitGrail. And now, a third major cryptocurrency exchange has vanished without a trace. If you haven’t heard of Thodex, you’re not alone: the Turkish-based exchange only had a few thousand users. But according to a new report from the BBC, six people connected to Thodex have been arrested by Turkish authorities, who suspect that the exchange was actually a front for an organized crime ring.

Turkish police have arrested six people suspected of involvement in the disappearance of Thodex crypto exchange CEO, Mehmet Yilmaz, after he reportedly fled with around $20 million in investor funds. According to local reports, the six were detained in Istanbul and Ankara on Monday and Tuesday, and were later charged with “establishing a criminal organization and fraud.” The company went out of business last month but investors were left waiting for their money. Trustees of the exchange then filed a petition with a local court for it to be liquidated.

Turkish authorities are still investigating local cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, which abruptly shut down trading last week.

A Turkish court on Thursday remanded six suspects in custody, including the siblings of the missing businessman and high-ranking employees of the company, Reuters reported.

As part of the investigation, Interpol issued a red notice for Farouk Fatih Ozer, CEO and founder of Thodex, who is believed to have traveled to Albania. If he gets caught with a red card, we have extradition treaties with many of these countries. God willing, he will be picked up and brought back, Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said.

Local authorities have arrested more than 83 people suspected of being involved in the case. Faced with growing fears that Thodex was a scam, the platform suspended payments.

Some suspects have suggested that the Özer siblings, Güven Özer and Serap Özer, may have played an important role in Thodex’s operations, noting that both had significant cryptocurrency assets, local media outlet Anadolu Agency reported.

Güven Özer reportedly owns nearly 22 million Turkish lira ($2.7 million) on two major local cryptocurrency exchanges, including BtcTurk and Paribu. Güven allegedly held an active managerial position at Thodex, although he had no official role in the company.

Serap Ozer, the sister of the missing CEO, reportedly made cryptocurrency transactions worth more than 120 million lira ($14.6 million) on her Binance account between 2018 and 2021. She claimed the account was not hers. Serap would have overseen Thodex’s financial activities.

As previously reported, the missing CEO of Thodex fled with cryptocurrencies worth up to $2 billion, but according to recent reports, Interior Minister Soylu said the company’s wallet was worth $108 million.

The news comes amid a hardening of the Turkish government’s stance on cryptocurrencies, with the country’s central bank officially banning payments with cryptocurrencies as of today. Another Turkish cryptocurrency exchange, Vebitcoin, also announced last week that it would cease operations due to employee arrests and fraud allegations.

Additional reporting by Erhan Kahraman.

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