Turkish authorities on April 22 launched a probe against an Istanbul-based cryptocurrency exchange founder who froze trading and fled the country. Faruk Fatih Ozer, founder of Thodex cryptocurrency exchange, is reportedly absconding with $2 billion in investors' assets.
On April 21, the Thodex exchange suspended trading after posting a mysterious message. The message said that the firm needed five days to deal with an unspecified outside investment, according to The Straits Times.
The Turkish authorities have released a photo of Ozer passing through passport control at the Istanbul Airport. Ozer was heading towards an unspecified location, as per the daily. Local media reports have said that he flew either to Thailand or Albania.
Thodex website froze after running a promotional campaign in which the firm claimed to sell Dogecoins at one-fourth of their trading price on other cryptocurrency exchanges. It then locked in these investments and did not allow the coins to be converted to other cryptocurrencies or to be sold.
"Why don't you allow my coins to be transferred?" Dogecoin investor Kaya Dinar asked Thodex in a tweet. As per reports, the website and the exchange froze while still holding at least $2 billion from around 3,91,000 investors.
"There has been no access to Thodex website for more than 24 hours. Hundreds of thousands of users cannot get access to wallets holding their crypto assets or cash money," investors' lawyer Oguz Evren Kilic told news agency AFP. "We have started the legal procedures and lodged a complaint at the prosecutor's office".
The Thodex website has since started working again. "We kindly inform you that the negative news on the internet does not reflect the truth," a message on the website reads. However, Thodex has failed to provide the location of Ozer or explain why the website was shut down.
"The process will continue in court. One would hope that (Thodex) takes positive steps and the problem is resolved quickly, but the situation is getting grave each passing minute," Kilic said.
(Edited by Mohammad Haaris Beg)
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