The CEO of Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Ozer, has fled the country after failing to transfer his shares to another investor, leaving “the remaining assets of about 390,000 active users ‘irretrievable,’” according to a report by Bloomberg.
Thodex’s lawyer, Bedirhan Oguz Basibuyuk, said the CEO fled Turkey because he would have been “either arrested or committed suicide” otherwise. Basibuyuk also explained that there was a liquidity problem with the exchange, explaining by phone that “[there] was a decline in Thodex’s assets. When too many users demanded their money back, the company was unable to meet those,” per the report.
A statement from Ozer on Thodex’s website also indicated that a years-old “hacking incident” has caused the financial problem.
“From today on, my sole aim is to repay my debt to you,” Ozer said in a statement addressed to the exchange’s users, according to Bloomberg. “The day I repay all my debt, I will return to my country and give myself in to justice.”
The news comes after the exchange announced on Twitter that it had abruptly halted trading because the transfer of the shares to an outside investor could not be completed, according to a previous report from Bloomberg. Services would be shut for five working days, but users wouldn’t need to worry about their funds, the announcement said.
Thodex’s bitcoin trading volume only represents 1.73% of its total volume, according to CoinMarketCap, which would be about $10,129,386 worth. Dogecoin leads, representing a whopping 52.39% of the total trading volume. In mid-March, Thodex announced a sogecoin campaign, “saying it would distribute millions of Dogecoins to new registrants … though many people have taken to social media to complain they never received them,” according to Bloomberg.
Although the Turkish central bank banned the use of cryptocurrencies for payments earlier in April, claiming excessive volatility and dangerous lack of regulation, exchanges could still operate. The ban seeks to specifically halt usage of bitcoin for payments, to protect the Turkish lira, and still allows Turks to buy bitcoin as an investment.
After this incident with Thodex, however, the future of bitcoin exchanges in the country is less certain.