Turkish Cryptocurrency Boss Sentenced: Legal Experts Shed Light on the Controversial Case
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - In a shocking turn of events, a Turkish court has handed down a jaw-dropping sentence of 11,196 years in prison to Faruk Fatih Ozer, the former CEO of Thodex cryptocurrency exchange, along with his two siblings, Serap and Guven. The siblings were found guilty of a range of charges, including money laundering, fraud, and involvement in an organized crime operation.
This case, which captured international attention, saw Faruk Fatih Ozer fleeing to Albania in 2021, leaving investors in turmoil as his Thodex exchange suddenly collapsed. He was later extradited back to Turkey in June of the same year to face charges. The trial, which concluded recently in Istanbul, sentenced each of the Ozer siblings to 11,196 years in prison, with each count representing a different victim among the 2,027 affected investors.
The Legal Perspective:
Suhyun Park, a Korean journalist, had the opportunity to interview legal experts from Team Kurucuk & Associates, a renowned law firm based in Istanbul, Turkey. Here is what they had stated:
1. Unusual Sentences and Turkish Law:
Suhyun Park raised the question of whether it's common for Turkish courts to pass sentences significantly longer than an accused individual's life expectancy. The legal experts from Team Kurucuk & Associates provided valuable insights into Turkish penal law.
The Team Kurucuk & Associates explained that Turkish law defines penalties primarily as "imprisonment" and "judicial fines." These penalties have various forms, including aggravated life imprisonment, life imprisonment, and term imprisonment. The length of the sentence depends on factors such as the manner in which the crime was committed, the tools used, the time and place, the importance of the subject, the severity of damage, the perpetrator's fault, purpose, and motive.
In the case of Faruk Fatih Ozer, his sentence of 11,196 years is a result of multiple crimes committed against numerous victims, each count representing one victim. The legal experts clarified that, unlike some legal systems, Turkish law does not have an upper limit or a mechanism for combining sentences, leading to lengthy prison terms when multiple charges are involved.
2. Distinctive Aspects of the Thodex Case:
Suhyun Park inquired about the differences between the Thodex case and other cryptocurrency fraud cases.
The experts highlighted that Thodex's rapid growth and its appeal to a young user base played a significant role in its prominence. The company, initially founded with a modest capital, expanded to operate in more than 120 countries. The sudden collapse of the exchange led to substantial losses for investors, especially among the younger generation who sought crypto assets as a hedge against the depreciating Turkish Lira.
They pointed out that crypto assets in Turkey are regulated as "assets" rather than "money," and fraud cases can be prosecuted under the Turkish Penal Code. The Thodex case involved multiple crimes, including fraud, which contributed to the substantial sentence.
3. Recovering Losses for Scam Victims:
The question of whether victims of scam coin cases can recover their financial losses in Turkey was addressed.
The legal experts explained that aggrieved investors have options for seeking justice. They can file complaints with the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office to initiate criminal proceedings, and simultaneously, they can file civil lawsuits to demand compensation. Additionally, they can initiate enforcement proceedings to recover their receivables.
4. The Extent of Heavy Penalties in Turkish Courts:
Suhyun Park questioned whether the high penalties imposed by Turkish courts were specific to cryptocurrency fraud cases or applied broadly.
The experts clarified that the Turkish legal system does not have a mechanism for combining sentences, and penalties can be individually imposed for each crime committed. This practice extends beyond cryptocurrency cases and is not unique to the Thodex case. They also noted that the removal of the death penalty from Turkish legislation has led to the expansion of long-term imprisonment as a punitive measure.
5. Legal Tradition or Contemporary Change:
Suhyun Park inquired about the prevalence of imposing lengthy sentences in Turkish courts, specifically whether this practice is limited to cryptocurrency fraud cases or extends to other types of crimes.
The legal experts explained that the practice of imposing lengthy sentences in Turkish courts is not limited to cryptocurrency fraud cases; rather, it applies broadly across various types of crimes. They emphasized that Turkish law lacks a mechanism for combining sentences, which means that each crime committed results in a separate and individual penalty. This practice is not unique to the Thodex cryptocurrency case but is a feature of the Turkish legal system. Additionally, they pointed out that the removal of the death penalty from Turkish legislation has contributed to the prevalence of long-term imprisonment as a punitive measure in the country's legal landscape.
6. Perspectives on Cryptocurrency Fraud Cases:
Lastly, the experts were questioned about their perspectives on cryptocurrency fraud cases and whether heavy punishments effectively deter such crimes.
The experts emphasized the need for specialized regulations and supervision of crypto assets in Turkish law, considering their increasing popularity. They stressed that while severe penalties can serve as a deterrent, effective regulation and enforcement are equally crucial to combating cryptocurrency fraud.
The Thodex cryptocurrency fraud case has raised significant legal and regulatory questions, shedding light on the complexities of prosecuting such cases in Turkey's legal landscape. As the world of cryptocurrency continues to evolve, it remains a topic of paramount importance for legal experts, regulators, and investors alike.