Turkish crypto exchange boss goes missing, reportedly taking $2 billion of investors’ funds with him

A visual representation of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin on November 21, 2020 in London, England.

Jordan Mansfield | Getty Images

LONDON — A Turkish cryptocurrency alternate is offline and its CEO has reportedly gone missing, leaving hundreds of investors skittish that their funds grasp been stolen.

Thodex, a crypto platform essentially based in Turkey, said its platform has been “temporarily closed” to tackle an “irregular fluctuation within the company accounts,” in line with a translated assertion on its online web page.

Native media reports exclaim that Faruk Fatih Ozer, Thodex’s founder, has flown to Albania, taking $2 billion of investors’ funds with him. Demiroren News Company printed a photograph of what it said used to be Ozer leaving Istanbul Airport.

A lawyer who filed a criminal complaint against Ozer said Thodex had 400,000 users, of which 390,000 grasp been active. On the opposite hand, Ozer has disputed the allegations, asserting only 30,000 users grasp been tormented by the scenario and that reports about $2 billion of losses are “unfounded.”

Per Anadolu Company, Turkish authorities grasp now issued an international warrant seeking Ozer’s arrest. Police grasp detained 62 of us in eight cities in conjunction with Istanbul, the sing-bustle news agency said.

Hundreds of Thodex users grasp filed complaints against the company, with investors asserting they’re unable to access their accounts and dismay that their financial savings could maybe be irretrievable. Some Turkish residents grasp changed into to crypto as a ability to guard their financial savings from skyrocketing inflation and the weakening of the Turkish lira.

Per Bloomberg, Thodex final month supplied unique registrants millions of free dogecoins. The alternate reportedly said 4 million of the meme-inspired crypto tokens had been distributed nonetheless many users exclaim they haven’t got them.

Thodex used to be no longer right away available for comment when contacted by CNBC thru Twitter.

Crypto crackdown forward?

It is a reminder of the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the crypto alternate. Though some international locations are introducing rules geared toward bringing crypto firms beneath their supervision, the alternate lacks the extent of scrutiny viewed in more established financial markets.

In 2019, Canadian crypto alternate QuadrigaCX went bankrupt after its CEO died, ensuing in millions of bucks’ value of digital assets being trapped in a digital wallet.

Turkey’s central financial institution recently banned the usage of cryptocurrencies for procuring goods and services and products. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for swift regulation, warning of “pyramid schemes” rising within the crypto markets.

Meanwhile, Britain’s financial services and products watchdog warned in January that crypto investors “ought to be prepared to lose all their cash” as a result of “very excessive dangers” associated with them.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are decentralized, which draw they’re no longer managed by a single particular particular person nonetheless a community of computers. The total belief of bitcoin first and major used to be for of us to be their own financial institution and take care of cash out of doors of the dilapidated financial machine.

Crypto investors imagine the alternate has matured a honorable deal over the years, then all all over again. Bitcoin’s ticket has climbed more than sixfold over the final 12 months, even after a gripping plunge in prices recently. And bitcoin bulls hope that the entrance of institutional investors and firms like Tesla to the market will reduction switch cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.

Nonetheless, volatility in digital forex prices and a likely regulatory clampdown are substantial dangers for the alternate. Jesse Powell, CEO of U.S. alternate Kraken, suggested CNBC earlier this month that he thinks there “could maybe even be some crackdown” on cryptocurrencies.

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