Do Kwon’s Fate Hangs in Balance as Montenegro High Court Reviews South Korea Extradition Appeal

Last Updated on March 8, 2024

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Key Takeaways:

  • The High Court in Podgorica, Montenegro, ruled that Do Kwon should be extradited to South Korea instead of the United States, with an appeal still possible.
  • An appellate court found significant violations in criminal procedure, reversing an earlier decision to extradite Kwon to the U.S.
  • Kwon was detained in Montenegro for attempting to fly to Dubai with an alleged fake Costa Rican passport, following a tip-off about his location.
  • Kwon prefers extradition to South Korea to be closer to his family and faces a potential 40-year prison sentence there.
  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Kwon’s legal team requested a delay in his U.S. trial until after his extradition.
  • Terraform Labs, co-founded by Kwon, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. after the collapse of Terra stablecoin and LUNA token in May 2022.
  • After leaving South Korea, Kwon and CFO Han Chang-joon resided in Serbia and started a consulting business, despite an Interpol “red notice” for Kwon.

The High Court in Podgorica, Montenegro, has recently decided that Do Kwon, the co-founder and former CEO of the now-defunct Terraform Labs, should be extradited to South Korea rather than the United States, as multiple media outlets have reported. This ruling, however, can still be appealed.

The decision comes after an appellate court reversed the High Court’s initial ruling favoring extradition to the U.S. on March 5, citing major breaches in criminal procedure regulations.

This follows South Korea’s extradition request in March 2023, which was initially dismissed in preference for the U.S.’s request, submitted just two days earlier.

Since his apprehension at Podgorica airport—attempting to fly to Dubai with what is claimed to be a counterfeit Costa Rican passport—Kwon has been detained in Montenegro.

A day before Kwon’s planned departure, Montenegrin authorities were tipped off about his presence, leading to his arrest.

Reports suggest that Kwon favored extradition to South Korea to be nearer to his family and raised questions about the legitimacy of the extradition treaty with the U.S.

In South Korea, Kwon is potentially facing a prison sentence of up to 40 years.

Kwon’s legal team had petitioned for a postponement of his trial in the U.S. until after his extradition, a request the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also supported, proposing a delay of his U.S. trial until at least March 18. Both Terraform Labs and Kwon face charges from the SEC.

Han Chang-joon, Terraform Labs’ chief financial officer apprehended alongside Kwon, was extradited to South Korea in February.

Following the collapse of its Terra stablecoin and LUNA governance token in May 2022, Terraform Labs declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. on January 21.

Post-collapse, Kwon vanished but continued to engage with over a million followers on social media, then known as Twitter, until his capture in Montenegro.

After leaving South Korea, Kwon and Han resided in Serbia and established a consulting firm, despite an Interpol “red notice” issued against Kwon.

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