Tech | April 23, 2021 3:53 pm

Turkish Cryptocurrency Exchange CEO Flees Country

And the manhunt is on

Cryptocurrency
The search is on for the head of a cryptocurrency exchange.
Dmitry Demidko/Unsplash

What happens when a cryptocurrency trading website goes dark for several days? There might be a perfectly legitimate explanation for that. But when that website’s CEO abruptly leaves the country, that’s going to set off some alarm bells, particularly among law enforcement. That’s also a description of what happened recently in Turkey, when Faruk Fatih Özer — the founder and CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange Thodex — went missing earlier this week.

According to a report at Coindesk, Thodex had over 400,000 users; 390,000 of them used the platform regularly.

On April 21, Thodex posted a message on Twitter indicating that it was temporarily pausing transactions as it evaluated a business offer. On the same day, Özer’s personal Twitter account ceased to exist. According to the chairman of the Ankara Bar Association’s Capital Markets and Finance Law Commission, Özer left Turkey on Tuesday night.

Things escalated from there. On Thursday, law enforcement released a photograph of the CEO passing through airport security. According to a Newsweek report, they believe that he is bound for either Albania or Thailand. Prosecutors believe that Özer has investors’ assets in tow with him, wherever he may be headed.

As Coindesk’s article points out, one of the first signs that something was amiss on Thodex was a drop in the price for dogecoin — the cryptocurrency with, perhaps, the most bizarre origin story of them all. For now, the search for Özer continues, and Thodex’s clients await the fate of their investments.