Do Kwon to face Montenegro justice first as US and Korea vie for extradition

Quick Take

  • Do Kwon is set to face charges for false travel documents before any extradition process takes place. 
  • The U.S. and South Korea have each requested the Terraform Labs founder’s extradition.
  • Both countries also requested access to Kwon’s laptops and other devices. 

Do Kwon will have his day in Montenegrin court — and potentially Montenegrin jail — before any international extradition process begins, according to Mark Kovac, the country's justice minister. 

The Terraform Labs founder was arrested in Montenegro last week after months of speculation about his whereabouts. Kwon was detained while trying to board a private jet with travel documents believed to be forgeries, according to local authorities. The initial detention has been extended to 30 days from 72 hours.

The U.S. and South Korea have both requested to extradite Kwon, Kovac told reporters at a press conference today. Local criminal proceedings take "primacy" over these extradition requests, he added. Both countries also requested the laptops and devices Kwon had with him at the time of his detention. 

When there are several extradition requests in place, the process for deciding which takes precedent is based on several factors, the minister said. These include the severity of the offense and when the request was received.

Running for cover

Social media has been rife with speculation over Kwon's whereabouts since the spectacular collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin in May and South Korean prosecutors decision bring charges in September.

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Singaporean police confirmed Kwon was not in the city-state shortly after the Korean courts issued an arrest warrant for him.

Kwon branded the charges from South Korea as "politically motivated" and insisted he wasn't on the run at the time. "The easier that I make it for people to figure out my location, the harder it is for me to continue regular life," he told journalist Laura Shin in October. 

The beleaguered crypto entrepreneur was suspected of being in the Balkans since late last year, according to reports. It was reported in February that South Korean prosecutors had traveled to Serbia in search of Kwon.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Adam Morgan is a reporter covering cryptocurrency, financial markets, and economics – anything from price movements, earnings reports, and inflation to the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate decis