Terra Founder Do Kwon Escapes Extradition to United States—Again

Disgraced Terra founder Do Kwon won a key victory Tuesday when an appeals court—for the second time—overturned a lower ruling that would have seen him extradited to the United States to face a slew of criminal and civil charges.

In December, a lower Montenegrin court first ruled that Kwon should be extradited to the United States, as opposed to his native South Korea, where he is also facing criminal charges for his role in the $60 billion collapse of cryptocurrencies UST and LUNA. After Kwon appealed that decision, the Appellate Court of Montenegro found the initial ruling was deeply flawed, and voided it.

Weeks later, a lower Montenegrin court ruled once again that Kwon should be extradited to America. And today, like clockwork, the nation’s Appellate Court nullified the extradition approval for a second time, ruling that it relied upon flawed logic, significant oversights, and a disregard for existing laws. 

Today’s ruling specifically called out the lower court’s conclusion that the United States requested Kwon’s extradition from Montenegro—where he is currently jailed—before South Korea did. While the lower court determined that U.S. prosecutors requested the extradition in March 2023 a day before their South Korean counterparts did, the Appellate Court found today that South Korea in fact beat the U.S. to the punch by several days, according to email records.

The Appellate Court today ruled that such oversights, combined with other legal errors, constituted “significant violations of the provisions of criminal procedure” in the judgment against Kwon, according to a statement. 

While the high court’s second consecutive ruling in Kwon’s favor is only good news for the beleaguered crypto founder, it is no guarantee of any ultimate outcome. In a Kafka-esque twist, there is no limit in Montenegro on how many times such a case as this can be retried and re-appealed. It now heads back to Montenegro’s lower courts for a third time. 

Nonetheless, the development certainly indicates that U.S. prosecutors are, at least for now, not getting their way in a nation that—particularly since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine—has supposedly been pushed further into America’s sphere of influence.

Kwon currently faces both a federal criminal trial in New York and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit for his alleged orchestration of a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme via his offerings of UST and LUNA. His SEC trial is set to start later this month, with or without him present. 

Kwon was arrested at an airport in Montenegro last March while attempting to travel on a private jet to Dubai with a forged Costa Rican passport. Kwon denied knowing the passport was a fake; he was sentenced to four months in Montenegrin prison for the offense.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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