Turkish authorities have seized $40 million in cryptocurrency as part of an investigation into an illegal gambling ring
Gambling in Turkey is highly regulated. Casinos were banned in 1998 in the country and online betting, with the exception of one state-owned service, has been banned since 2006.
According to reporting by The Daily Sabah, the authorities also issued detention orders for 46 suspects on allegations the individuals took part in facilitating illegal betting operations in eight provinces.
Turkey’s Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor and the Smuggling and Organized Crime Investigation Bureau alleged the suspects mediated the funds produced by the illegal gambling operation, which were then transferred to the group's crypto addresses.
No indication is available of what cryptocurrencies were seized.
Turkish Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu said that "This operation came out of Turkish Cyprus and is linked to the murder of Halil Falyalı.”
Halil Falyali, a Turkish Cypriot businessman, was shot dead while driving near his home in Çatalköy, Kyrenia in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in February 2022.
The incident led to two men, M. Faysal Söylemez and Mustafa Söylemez, facing aggravated life sentences.
Falyali was no stranger to money laundering investigations himself and apparently has been wanted in the United States since 2016 on charges of money laundering and drug trafficking.
The $40 million confiscated may just be the tip of the iceberg, at least according to Turkish authorities.
‘Just the beginning’ of crypto crackdown
Authorities allege that a transfer of approximately 2.5 billion Turkish Lira, roughly $134.3 million, of money also occurred in relation to the incident.
Turkish authorities seem to have every intention of continuing the investigation, with Soylu telling The Daily Sabah that “this is just the beginning."
He told journalists in a separate meeting that: "We have supplied these files to those nations in an effort to create a condition that prevents unlawful betting from happening anywhere in the world, including Europe, the center of such activities.”
He added that “allegations that Turkey makes money from crime and illegal gambling are wrong” and that “Turkey is collaborating with all of its institutions to block organized crime's cryptocurrency transactions and earnings.”