Faruk Fatih Özer, the founder and CEO of the defunct Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, was sentenced to 11,196 years in prison on Thursday, as reported by local media sources.
He was found guilty of aggravated fraud, leading a criminal organization, and money laundering.
“I am smart enough to lead any institution on Earth,” Özer told the court, as reported by luck. “That’s obvious in this company that I founded at the age of 22. I wouldn’t have acted better if it was a criminal organization.”
Özer’s two brothers, who helped him run the exchange, were sentenced to the same prison terms.
In addition, a court-ordered fine of approximately 135 million Liras (about $5 million) was levied against them.
The final trial saw 21 defendants facing up to 40,564 years in prison. 16 of the 21 accused were acquitted and four of the seven people in prison were released due to lack of evidence.
Other defendants were given varying degrees of imprisonment for different crimes.
Decrypt has reached out to Turkish authorities for comment and will update this article if they respond.
Founded in 2017, Thodex was the largest crypto exchange in Turkey before it collapsed.
400,000 users were left without access to their crypto deposits, totaling nearly $2 billion.
The closure of the exchange was initially attributed by Özer to a halt in an unspecified foreign investment that required a four to five day trading break.
But a day later, Özer changed the narrative, saying that cyber attacks forced the sales to stop. Despite this, he admitted that customer funds remained safe and promised to repay investors.
After the collapse of the platform, Faruk Fatih Özer disappeared, fleeing to Albania. He was finally located in Vlorë, a large city on the coast of Albania, in August 2022.
The collapse of the Thodex was particularly shocking in Turkey, coinciding with the depreciation of the Turkish lira and subsequent inflation in the country.