Podgorica, Montenegro – In a decisive turn of events, Montenegro’s Higher Court has paved the way for the potential extradition of Do Kwon, the elusive founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency Terra. Kwon’s fate hangs in the balance as Justice Minister Andrej Milovic prepares to weigh extradition requests from both South Korea and the United States.
On June 19, the Basic Court in Podgorica handed down a four-month jail sentence to Kwon and his associate, Han Chang-joon, for falsifying their IDs. The arrest, which occurred on March 23 at Podgorica airport as they attempted to board a private flight to Dubai with counterfeit travel documents from Costa Rica, marked a critical juncture in the ongoing legal saga.
Despite Kwon’s expressed willingness to expedite his extradition to South Korea, the Higher Court deemed a formal decision necessary, given the multiple countries vying for his extradition. Justice Minister Milovic now holds the pivotal role of determining the precedence between South Korea and the United States, both of which have been seeking Kwon since his arrest.
In accordance with Montenegrin law, the extradition process can only commence after Kwon completes his four-month sentence in Montenegro. The final say in this intricate legal process rests squarely on the shoulders of Justice Minister Andrej Milovic, guided by Montenegro’s Law on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
In a statement on November 23, Minister Milovic underscored the inherently political nature of deciding whether to extradite Kwon to the US or South Korea. He emphasized the strategic importance of the United States as a primary foreign policy partner and expressed the nation’s eagerness to expedite the signing of a bilateral extradition agreement, establishing a robust legal framework for future cases.
Kwon, the subject of an Interpol red notice issued on September 26, faces allegations of orchestrating the collapse of the $40 billion Terra Luna (LUNC) and Terra USD (USTC) ecosystem in May 2022. Regulatory authorities in South Korea, Singapore, and the US have charged Kwon with fraud and violations of South Korea’s capital markets law. In response, Kwon maintains that the charges against him are “politically motivated.”
Terraform Labs, the entity behind the ill-fated Terra stablecoin, had envisioned maintaining a relatively fixed price pegged to a real-world commodity or currency.
However, in May 2022, Terra’s value plummeted from $116 to less than $0.0002. This catastrophic crash resulted in a staggering estimated loss of $42 billion for global investors, as reported by Elliptic, a blockchain analytics firm. South Korean authorities, in response, have launched several criminal probes into the incident, leaving some investors grappling with the loss of their entire life savings.
As the legal proceedings unfold, the international community remains on edge, closely monitoring whether Montenegro’s Justice Minister will give priority to the extradition of Do Kwon to South Korea or the United States. The outcome of this decision is poised to significantly shape the trajectory of justice for the beleaguered Terra cryptocurrency and its investors worldwide.