Montenegro to transfer fugitive crypto-king to the US

Montenegro to transfer fugitive crypto-king to the US
Do Kwon's terraUSD collapsed in 2022, sparking an unprecedented crisis of confidence in crypto markets. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews January 14, 2024

Montenegro will most likely transfer fugitive crypto-king Do Kwon to the US in March, as he is wanted to face trial for fraud, public broadcaster RTCG reported on January 12, quoting his legal advisor.

Do Kwon, co-founder of Terraform Labs, was arrested in Montenegro in March last year. He was then sentenced to four months in prison in Montenegro for falsifying travel documents.

After the sentence expired, Kwon was supposed to be handed to one of the countries that have issued arrest warrants for him: the US, Singapore and South Korea. The crypto king is charged in the US with being responsible for the loss of more than $40bn.

However, in mid-December last year, Kwon won a claim requesting the postponement of his extradition to the US where trial is scheduled to begin at the end of January.

In a filing to the US court, Kwon’s counsel said in January that extradition proceedings in Montenegro are not going as quickly as planned, and that Kwon could arrive to the US in February or March at the earliest, requesting a postponement of the start of the trial.

The trial is currently scheduled to begin at the end of January. Should the court decline to postpone the trial, Kwon’s counsel asked that the jury be instructed that his absence and inability to testify be viewed as “not unduly prejudicial to him”. 

He is being sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly arranging a cryptocurrency fraud that led to billions of dollars in losses by selling a number of digital assets not properly registered with regulators.

Kwon was also charged with fraud and breaches of capital markets law in South Korea. The South Korean authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for him, after being unable to locate Kwon.

They had information in 2022 that Kwon had travelled to an unknown country, believed to be Serbia, via Dubai after leaving Singapore, where Terraform was headquartered. His South Korean passport was revoked.

terraUSD, a stablecoin, was designed to connect traditional and crypto markets. Traders use them like cash or a store of value between crypto trades.

In May 2022, terraUSD’s peg collapsed, sparking an unprecedented crisis of confidence in crypto markets and led to the bankruptcy of companies such as Celsius and Three Arrows Capital.

terraUSD turned off its blockchain and was delisted from major exchanges.

The meltdown of terraUSD and luna coins affected hundreds of thousands of investors, who were attracted by a scheme in which clients could lend their terra coins for a yield of up to 20%.

In September 2022, Interpol issued a red notice for Kwon. Meanwhile, Kwon continued to make statements on social media without sharing his location since his disappearance.