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Do Kwon Extradition To South Korea Challenged Again By U.S. Prosecutors

Andrew Throuvalas
Last updated: | 2 min read

Terra founder Do Kwon has been caught in a legal battle between the United States and South Korea over which nation gets to extradite the crypto mogul to their turf.

In a March 8 statement to Bloomberg, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed it still expects to receive Kwon within U.S. borders, despite a high court decision overturning those plans.

The Do Kwon Extradition Battle

“The United States continues to seek Kwon’s extradition in accordance with relevant international and bilateral agreements and Montenegrin law,” the Justice Department wrote. “The United States appreciates the cooperation of the Montenegrin authorities in ensuring that all individuals are subject to the rule of law.”

On the other hand, South Korea is also ramping up efforts to get Kwon extradited. On Thursday, the National Police Agency of South Korea sent a letter to the Secretariat of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) requesting aid in extraditing Kwon from a Montenegro jail.

This followed a High Court ruling earlier this week that revoked a prior ruling to extradite the crypto mogul to the United States, given misinformation about the order in which South Korea and the U.S. filed their petitions. Before this, the U.S. extradition had been approved twice by a lower court.

Both nations are seeking out Kwon on charges related to his now-defunct Terra blockchain, an algorithmic stablecoin network whose spectacular blowup wiped out $44 billion of investor value in May 2022. Contagion around the blowup triggered more high-profile collapses at firms like Three Arrows Capital, Celsius, and FTX.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has since slapped Kwon with a litany of charges for deliberately defrauding investors, including by selling the platform’s native LUNA token as an unregistered security.

A Preference For South Korea

An extradition to South Korea would be a win for Kwon, the country being a preference among Kwon’s lawyers, and more likely to offer him a lighter punishment.

According to Terrence Yang, Managing Director at Swan Bitcoin, extradition to South Korea would be a “travesty” for victims seeking proper justice.

“The US probably has the largest number of victims by both number and dollar amount,” Yang said. “It seems a bit ridiculous for the Montenegro court to extradite Do Kwon to South Korea, where he might get acquitted or a comically light sentence as opposed to the United States.”

A U.S. court has already convicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried of multiple counts of fraud, for which he will potentially face decades behind bars.

A group of South Korean Terra investors have also called for Kwon to be extradited to the U.S. where they say he will face “proper punishment.”