Mehmet Aydın, who allegedly defrauded thousands of Turks of millions of dollars via an online investment app, has surrendered to law enforcement in Sao Paulo after declaring his intention to surrender to Turkish authorities in a video posted on Wednesday, Turkish media reported.
Çiftlik Bank (Farm Bank) founder Aydın posted a video via his lawyers on Wednesday in which he claimed he had been wronged in the process and that he had finally decided to surrender to judicial authorities.
“When I first launched this project, my goal was to ensure that people who use our game platform would play games and at the same time benefit from the money our company allocates to advertising, thereby earning an additional income. I never intended to cause any damage to or swindle anyone,” Aydın said in the video.
Aydın added that he would surrender to the Turkish authorities “to prove his innocence and victimization,” expressing trust in the Turkish courts to make the correct judgment.
In 2019 INTERPOL had issued a Red Notice for Aydın, wanted by Turkish authorities on charges of “theft by deception by using as an instrument electronic data processing systems, bank or lending institutions,” “theft by deception of the executives of a merchant or a company or of the executives of a cooperative,” “establishing an organization for the purpose of committing crimes,” “laundering of assets acquired from an offense” and “violation of the tax law.”
In August 2016 Aydın established Çiftlik Bank, a company based in northern Cyprus that offers an online video game where users can purchase and raise farm animals, with the promise that the funds would be used for production on real farms to be established across Turkey.
An investigation launched in March 2018 based on allegations that the company operated a Ponzi scheme had led to the seizure of its assets and the arrest of some of its executives.
It was later claimed that Aydın fled to Uruguay in 2018 with more than 1.1 billion Turkish lira (around $280 million according to the exchange rate in effect at the time) collected from some 132,000 customers.
While Turkish officials vowed to bring him back, no substantial progress had been made for the last three years.
Mob boss Sedat Peker last month had claimed Aydın was in Belarus and that Turkish officials had visited him there and were bribed by Aydın to not bring him to Turkey to stand trial.