Dozens of people were arrested on Friday and Interpol issued a red notice as a Turkish investigation into the Thodex cryptocurrency exchange intensifies.
Turkey has detained dozens of people as part of an investigation into a cryptocurrency trading platform and has called for the arrest of its founder in Albania, police said on Friday after the Turks filed criminal complaints claiming to have been scammed.
The Thodex platform, which handles cryptocurrency exchanges worth hundreds of millions of dollars on a daily basis, said on its website on Thursday that it would be closed for four to five days due to a process of sale.
But users who were unable to withdraw money or access their accounts have expressed concerns on Twitter that they may have been defrauded, comments widely echoed by Turkish media.
Police launched raids at 6 a.m. (03:00 GMT) on Friday in eight provinces with warrants for the arrest of 78 suspects, Istanbul police said in a statement. A day earlier, they searched the company’s offices in Istanbul and seized documents.
Sixty-two people have been arrested so far, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
Istanbul police said the company’s founder and CEO Faruk Fatih Ozer flew to the Albanian capital Tirana on Tuesday.
Interpol issued a red notice for Ozer on Friday after a request from Ankara. Turkey’s interior minister and police chief held talks with their Albanian counterparts on Thursday to demand the arrest of Ozer, the Turkish police headquarters said.
Reuters could not contact Ozer or his lawyer for comment.
An Istanbul prosecutor’s office said on Thursday it opened an investigation into Thodex after the platform was said to have led to “many citizens’ dismay.” Turkey’s Financial Crimes Commission of Inquiry, also known as MASAK, blocked the company’s accounts on Wednesday and opened an investigation, a MASAK source said.
Thodex said the “negative” media reports about it were bogus and that the banks and funds – which he would identify later – wanted to invest in the business and offered a partnership.
24-hour trading volume on Thodex was $ 538 million on its last day of trading, according to CoinMarketCap.
Turkey last week banned the use of crypto assets for payments, adding to factors that pushed Bitcoin down 14% over the weekend. Turkey’s central bank cited “irreparable” damage and transaction risks as the reasons for the ban.