The Montenegro Court of Appeals has halted, for the second time, the extradition of Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon to South Korea or the United States. This decision overturns the previous ruling by the nation’s High Court in December, marking another victory for Do Kwon’s defense team.
Do Kwon, a central figure in the cryptocurrency world, successfully appealed against the High Court’s decision on December 14, which had initially agreed to the extradition requests on November 17. Despite the High Court reaffirming its stance on December 29, Do Kwon’s persistence in January led to this recent reversal.
The Appeals Court pinpointed significant procedural flaws in the High Court’s handling of the extradition requests, notably the ambiguous order in which the requests from South Korea and the U.S. were processed. This lack of clarity and factual basis in the High Court’s decision was critical in its annulment.
The case is now set to return to the first-instance court for a fresh evaluation, throwing a new twist in the legal saga surrounding Do Kwon and the dramatic collapse of the Terra ecosystem.
Background of the Legal Battle
Do Kwon has been embroiled in legal controversies following the disastrous implosion of the Terra ecosystem in May 2022, which erased approximately $40 billion in investor funds. The crash of TerraUSD and Luna, two cryptocurrencies he developed, prompted charges of financial misconduct in both South Korea and the U.S., leading to a global manhunt.
Kwon’s arrest in Montenegro in March last year for possessing a counterfeit passport added to his woes. Although he managed to secure release on a $436,000 bail, a subsequent conviction for document forgery in June and the loss of his appeal led to a four-month prison sentence in November.
The quest for Kwon’s extradition has been a focal point of international law enforcement efforts, highlighted by Interpol’s issuance of a red notice in September 2022. Meanwhile, Do Kwon’s former colleague, Terraform Labs CFO Han Chang-joon, faced extradition from Montenegro to South Korea on Monday, adding another layer to the unfolding drama.
This latest ruling not only stalls the extradition process but also underscores the complexities and procedural nuances involved in international legal proceedings. As the case heads back to the drawing board, all eyes will remain on Montenegro’s courts and the ongoing repercussions of the Terra ecosystem’s collapse.