Turkish cryptocurrency exchange abruptly halted trading this morning without prior notice, locking out the funds of its 391,000 active traders.
The exchange, which has operated since 2017, today shared a statement on Twitter, citing an unspecified outside investment that required the suspension of trading for 4-5 days.
But this “may well be a scam,” Oğuz Evren Kılıç, a lawyer in the Turkish capital Ankara who today filed a legal complaint against the exchange.
Thodex CEO Faruk Fatih Özer left the country last evening, per police records shared with Kılıç, and deleted his social media accounts. The company has also cut off all customer support. “This is all terrifying,” said Kılıç.
Kılıç estimates the total funds locked up in Thodex accounts to be somewhere between $2-10 billion, a wide range that will be clearer over the following days. Today’s investigation by the prosecutor’s office—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 do not know the exact amount and whether that will be enough for everyone.”
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.”