Montenegro appeals court confirms 'cryptocurrency king' will be extradited to South Korea

An appeals court in Montenegro on Wednesday confirmed that a South Korean mogul known as “the cryptocurrency king” will be handed over to his native country.

Both South Korea and the U.S. had requested Do Kwon’s extradition from Montenegro. A Montenegrin court initially decided he should be handed over to the U.S. but that ruling was later overturned in favor of South Korea.

The Appeals Court of Montenegro approved an earlier ruling by the High Court to extradite Kwon to South Korea rather than the United States, a statement said. He has no further avenues for appeal.

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Kwon was charged in the U.S. with fraud by federal prosecutors in New York.

It was not immediately clear when Kwon would be handed over. Kwon’s lawyer in Montenegro, Goran Rodic, said that “we are content with the decision of the Appeals Court.”

FILE – Montenegrin police officers escort South Korean citizen, Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica, March 24, 2023. A court in Montenegro has ruled that Do Kwon should be extradited to the United States to face fraud charges rather than to his native South Korea, a court official in the Balkan Country said Thursday Feb. 22, 2024. Do Kwon, 32, was arrested nearly a year ago in Montenegro on an international arrest warrant in connection with a $40 billion crash of Terraform Labs cryptocurrency, which devastated retail investors around the world. (AP Photo/Risto Bozovic, File)

“It is now a binding decision and the law envisages that further handover procedure will be handled by the justice ministries of Montenegro and South Korea, as well as the relevant police authorities who will determine the time, location and conditions of the handover,” Rodic told The Associated Press.

The 32-year-old Kwon was arrested in the Balkan nation last year over a $40 billion crash of Terraform Labs’ cryptocurrency, which devastated retail investors around the world.

Kwon and another South Korean were arrested while trying to depart for Dubai, United Arab Emirates, using fake Costa Rican passports. He has served a prison term in Montenegro for using a fake passport.

Kwon and five others connected to Terraform had been wanted on allegations of fraud and financial crimes in relation to the implosion of its digital currencies in May 2022.

TerraUSD was designed as a “stablecoin,” a currency which is pegged to stable assets like the dollar to prevent drastic fluctuations in prices. However, around $40 billion in market value was erased for the holders of TerraUSD and its floating sister currency, Luna, after the stablecoin plunged far below its $1 peg.

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