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The Founder of a Failed Crypto Exchange Gets 11,196 Years in Jail in Turkey

The downfall of crypto has been playing out in courtrooms across the world. And now the founder of a failed cryptocurrency exchange in Turkey is facing a lengthy—very lengthy—prison sentence.

Faruk Fatih Özer, who created the Thodex exchange, will be serving an 11,196-year jail term, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. He was initially charged with fraud, money laundering, and operating a criminal organization, all of which he denied.

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“If I were to establish a criminal organization, I would not act so amateurishly,” Özer told the court, according to the Turkish state-run outlet Anadolu Agency.

Thodex came apart back in 2021, with its users losing a whopping $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency after it denied them access to withdrawing funds, according to data from the research firm Chainalysis cited in the WSJ. On Thursday, along with Özer, other defendants including his siblings were also sentenced.

The Wall Street Journal noted that lengthy prison terms aren’t uncommon in Turkey. In fact, prosecutors in this case had initially wanted a maximum of 40,000 years for Özer. And last year, in an unrelated case, a Turkish preacher found guilt of sexual assault and abuse of minors was given more than 8,600 years in jail.

Such long stints are practically unheard of in the United States, though, especially when it comes to similar crypto-related cases. Sam Bankman-Fried, who was behind the crypto exchange FTX, is facing up to 115 years in prison. His trial begins next month, and he has similarly denied the charges against him. Meanwhile, Bankman-Fried’s former colleague Ryan Salame pleaded guilty on Thursday to criminal charges related to FTX’s collapse. (Notably, many celebrities lost money in that fiasco, with Tom Brady down a cool $30 million.) Salame faces up to 10 years in jail, a mere one-thousandth of Özer’s sentence, the WSJ noted.

While 11 millennia may seem unnecessary—it’s not like people live anywhere close to that time—for those who lost their money because of Özer’s crypto grift, the jail sentence has be pretty satisfying.

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