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Turkish crypto exchange goes bankrupt as founder flees the country

(Bloomberg) – One of Turkey’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges said it lacked the financial strength to continue operations, leading hundreds of thousands of investors to fear their savings have evaporated as authorities attempted to locate the company’s 27-year-old founder , who had fled the country. Confusion reigned as to how many users of the Thodex exchange were affected and how much money was at stake. In a statement from an unknown location, Thodex Chief Executive Officer Faruk Fatih Ozer promised to repay investors and return to Turkey to await justice after he did. The government decided to freeze the company’s accounts and police raided its Istanbul headquarters. According to the Haberturk newspaper, the losses would amount to $ 2 billion, and a lawyer for the victims said the money invested by about 390,000 active users had “become unrecoverable.” . Both figures have been disputed by Ozer. About 30,000 users have been affected, he said in a statement on the company’s website Thursday. As authorities and customers sought to find out the details of what happened, a senior official in president’s office shouted. Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls for rapid regulation of the crypto market. Globally, the rise in digital token prices has been accompanied by convictions and regulatory action following several scams related to trading platforms. The Turkish government must “take action as soon as possible,” said Cemil Ertem, a senior economic adviser to Erdogan. Bloomberg. “Pyramid schemes are being set up. Turkey will undoubtedly enact regulation in line with its economy, but also by monitoring global developments.” Alternative investments Thodex was part of the cryptocurrency boom that has attracted legions of Turks who want their savings protect against rampant inflation and an unstable currency. Inflation reached 16.2% in March, more than three times the central bank’s target of 5%. The Turkish lira has weakened 10% against the dollar this year, the ninth consecutive year of losses. The government has spent a massive $ 165 billion in foreign exchange reserves over the past two years, Erdogan revealed Wednesday, as part of a futile attempt to move up the national currency. Concerns about the country’s declining foreign exchange reserves, which are negative when considering money borrowed by the government from private banks through swap agreements, has fueled concern about both lira and dollar deposits – and has pushed savers towards alternative investment vehicles. , trading volume in Turkish crypto markets has tripled to more than $ 1.2 billion from a week earlier, according to data published by coingecko.com, which tracks data on price, volume and market value in crypto markets. That compares to an average daily trading volume in the Turkish stock market benchmark index of approximately $ 3.1 billion. “One can set up a crypto exchange with as little as 50,000 lira (about $ 6,000) in capital,” said Oguz Evren Kilic, a lawyer representing Thodex users. by phone. “There is a huge regulatory gap in this area.” Ozer did not respond to multiple calls on his cell phone. The company’s call center also did not pick up calls. Bedirhan Oguz Basibuyuk, Thodex’s lawyer, told Bloomberg that he does not know where Ozer is, but that he is not in Turkey. Demiroren News Agency reported that he fled to Albania on Tuesday and published a photo of him at Istanbul airport. Last month, Thodex launched a campaign to boost membership by offering millions of free Dogecoins to new registrants. The website says 4 million of the coins were distributed, although many people have taken to social media to complain that they never received them. “I was born one of three siblings of an official,” Ozer said in his statement, adding that he has dropped out of school. As the company ran into financial trouble, he said he was considering committing suicide or surrendering himself to the authorities, but both options meant that customers’ assets would never be recovered. “So I decided to stay alive and fight, work and pay back my debts to you,” he said. “On the day I pay back all my debt, I will return to my country and surrender myself to justice (Updates with new party, action from government agencies, details everywhere.) Visit us at bloomberg.com for more articles like this. Now to stay ahead of the curve with the most trusted business news source. © 2021 Bloomberg LP

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