Turkish Crypto Exchange Associated with Hull City Sponsorship at Center of Fraud Scandal

Hassan Shittu
Last updated: | 2 min read
Turkey Crypto Exchange Scam
Source: Adobe / Husamex

The investigation into Tomya, a cryptocurrency exchange sponsored by Hull City’s owner, Acun Ilıcalı, has led to several arrests, including the exchange’s owner, Yavuz Usta, and economist Ece Pulaş.

The Istanbul Büyükçekmece Public Prosecutor’s Office launched this investigation to uncover potential fraudulent activities. It was triggered by Musa Ekmekçioğlu’s complaint, alleging he was defrauded of $211,500. The probe has resulted in the detention of 25 individuals, with 11 being referred for arrest.

Ece Pulaş’s lawyer stated that his client provides consultancy and training in capital markets and does not have any partnership or signing authority with the companies involved in the investigation or Tomya.

He emphasized that Pulaş only conducted training for a short period of about five weeks.

Former Thodex CEO Faces Over 11,000 Years in Turkish Prison as the Country Prepares for Crypto Legislation

Details on the investigation are emerging as the country prepares to introduce crypto legislation. Turkey recently handed out an 11,196-year sentence to the individuals who ran Thodex, a crypto exchange that suddenly collapsed in 2021.

Thodex was one of Turkey’s largest crypto exchanges before it suddenly went offline in April 2021, and Özer went missing. Over 400,000 members were left in the dark without access to deposits of $2 billion in cryptocurrencies. Özer had fled to Albania but was arrested in August 2022 after an Interpol red notice was issued against him.

By April 2023, Özer was deported to Turkey and detained by police upon arrival on seven charges, including establishing and managing an organization with the purpose of committing a crime, being a member of an organization, fraud by using information systems as a tool of banks or credit institutions, fraud of merchants or company executives and cooperative managers, and laundering the value of assets resulting from crime.

Despite the Thodex scandal, crypto adoption in the country has yet to show signs of slowing down. According to a research survey conducted by KuCoin, over the last year and a half, crypto adoption has increased from 40 percent to 52 percent of the Turkish population. 71 percent of investors said they own Bitcoin, while 45 percent own Ethereum and other stablecoins.

Also, the Turkish government has been exploring the development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) called the Digital Lira, signaling the nation’s evolving stance on digital finance.

Turkey Aims to Regulate Crypto Market with a Focus on Licensing and Taxation

In a bid to address concerns raised by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and move off the international financial crime watchdog’s “grey list,” Turkey is set to introduce new rules to regulate the crypto market. Officials suggest that the regulations are likely to emphasize licensing and taxation, with the goal of preventing abuse of the system and ensuring compliance with FATF recommendations.

Turkey, currently the world’s fourth-largest crypto-trading country, has experienced a surge in crypto trading amid soaring inflation and a depreciating national currency, the lira, prompting the need for alternative assets. Turkey ranked fourth globally in raw crypto transaction volumes, with approximately $170 billion over the past year.