Turkey: Crypto exchange CEO flees country as probe is launched

The Turkish crypto exchange Thodex ceased operations and its chief executive officer has fled the nation amid allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were stolen.

A prosecutor in Istanbul has launched an investigation and police are searching the Thodex offices, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The trading platform is “unable” to continue operations with founder and CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer out of the country, the company said in a written statement earlier Thursday.

While not the largest Turkish crypto exchange, the shuttering of the platform has left the remaining assets of about 390,000 active users “irretrievable,” according to Oguz Evren Kilic, who represents an unspecified number of Thodex users and has filed a legal complaint on their behalf.

As authorities and customers try to work out the details of what happened, officials are calling for rapid regulation of the crypto market. A surge in the prices of digital tokens has been accompanied by convictions globally in scams tied to crypto platforms as well as speculation that authorities will seek tighter controls.

The Turkish government should take action “as soon as possible,” Cemil Ertem, senior economic adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Bloomberg on Thursday. “Pyramid schemes are being established in this area. Turkey will undoubtedly carry out a regulation that’s in line with its economy but also by following global developments.”