Turkish bitcoin broker with over $2 billions goes offline and CEO disappears
Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex halted trading this morning without warning, locking in funds from its 391,000 active customers.
The exchange, which has been operating since 2017, shared today a statement on Twitter, citing an unspecified external document that demanded the suspension of trading for 4-5 days.
— THODEX (@thodexofficial) April 21, 2021
But this “may be a scam,” Turkish lawyer Ankara told Decrypt Oğuz Evren Kılıç, who today filed a lawsuit against the stock exchange.
Thodex CEO Faruk Fatih Özer left the country last night, according to police records shared with Kılıç, and deleted his social media accounts. The company also cut all customer support. “This is all scary,” said Kılıç.
Kılıç estimates that total funds blocked in Thodex accounts is equivalent to something between $2 and $10 billions, a wide range that will become clearer in the coming days. Today’s prosecution investigation – the first step in the legal process – found that there is “some money in the bank accounts of the exchange and its owners”.
Kılıç continued: “But we don’t know the exact amount and if that will be enough for everyone”.
Between March 15 and April 15, just before the Dogecoin frenzy began, the exchange held a hugely successful marketing campaign, rewarding each new subscription with 150 DOGE. According to reports, thousands of new users migrated to the exchange, and their turnover on Saturday reached a daily record of $1.37 billion, the highest daily value of last year, according to data from CoinGecko.
In what should have sounded the alarm, however, the company sold DOGE at a fixed rate at a discount of $0.11 as of April 14. But DOGE was worth $0.42 on April 16.
Thodex’s disappearance comes at a curious time for Turkish stock exchanges.
Last Friday, the Turkish government legally recognized crypto, but banned payments with them. It also prevented fintech companies from dealing directly or indirectly with crypto, which mainly affects foreign brokers that depend on local fintechs to operate in the country, since local banks do not partner with them.