Court Rules on Extradition: Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur Do Kwon Faces U.S. Trial Amid International Legal Battle

The Montenegrin court in Podgorica has ruled that disgraced cryptocurrency entrepreneur Do Kwon should be extradited to the U.S. to face trial on fraud charges rather than to South Korea, his native country. Kwon’s lawyers have three days to appeal the decision, and the appeals court will have the final say in the case, according to a spokeswoman for the court.

Goran Rodić, a local lawyer representing Kwon, criticized the ruling as illegal and vowed to appeal. Kwon, the creator of the failed TerraUSD and Luna cryptocurrencies, has consistently denied committing fraud.

The tug of war between the U.S. and South Korea over Kwon has been ongoing since his arrest in March 2023 at the Podgorica airport while attempting to board a private jet to Dubai with a fake Costa Rican passport. Both the U.S. and South Korea sought to prosecute him for charges related to the May 2022 collapse of TerraUSD and Luna, which wiped out around $40 billion in crypto market value.

In the U.S., federal prosecutors in New York charged Kwon with eight criminal counts of fraud, accusing him of misleading investors about the stability of TerraUSD. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also filed a civil case against Kwon and his company, Terraform Labs, for securities fraud in connection with the TerraUSD and Luna collapse. The trial for the SEC’s fraud lawsuit is set to commence with jury selection on March 25.

While representatives of the Justice Department and SEC declined to comment on the Montenegrin court’s ruling, it opens the possibility for Kwon to appear in court for the SEC’s trial. Kwon, a South Korean citizen, is also wanted by prosecutors in Seoul for alleged violations of the country’s capital-markets laws. South Korean prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant for Kwon in September 2022.

Kwon left his home in Singapore in September 2022 and disappeared from public view for six months, later revealed to be hiding in Serbia. The circumstances leading to his departure from Serbia and arrest in Montenegro, where he was convicted of using false documents, remain unclear.

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