SARAJEVO – November 24, 2023
In a significant development on Friday, a Montenegro court announced its approval of the extradition of cryptocurrency entrepreneur Do Kwon. The court’s decision has left the final say on his destination—either South Korea or the United States—in the hands of the justice minister, as both nations are seeking his extradition.
Do Kwon, known for his role in creating the failed Terra (UST) stablecoin, faces charges in the U.S. related to a “multibillion-dollar fraud.” In June, Kwon and an associate were sentenced to four months in prison by the Montenegrin court for using forged passports. Upon their arrest, law enforcement discovered a separate set of Belgian passports, laptop computers, doctored Costa Rican passports, and other devices in their possession.
During a hearing in May, both defendants contested the charges brought forth by the Montenegrin prosecutor. Kwon’s legal representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries when the U.S. charges were unveiled. However, a spokesperson for Terraform Labs, the company founded by Kwon, declared in July the firm’s intent to combat the “misguided and deeply flawed” U.S. allegations.
The High Court in Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital, clarified on Friday that Do Kwon had agreed to extradition to South Korea under an abbreviated procedure. Nevertheless, the justice minister will make the final decision as multiple states have requested Kwon’s handover. This determination will occur after Kwon completes serving his prison sentence for document forgery, according to the court’s statement.
As of now, Do Kwon’s lawyer in Podgorica has not provided an immediate comment on the situation.
A South Korean national, Kwon previously served as the CEO of Terraform Labs, the South Korea-based company responsible for the TerraUSDstablecoin, which collapsed in May 2022, causing turbulence in cryptocurrency markets. Kwon, together with “Han Chang-joon,” the former finance officer of Terraform Labs, was arrested in late March while trying to catch a flight from Podgorica to Dubai.
After Kwon’s arrest, an eight-count indictment was disclosed by “the U.S. District Court in Manhattan,” encompassing allegations of commodities fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy. In late May, a Montenegrin court revoked the 800,000 euros bail for the pair, deeming it an insufficient guarantee of their appearance and their commitment not to flee once released from detention.