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S. Korea submits extradition request for crypto fugitive Kwon earlier than U.S.: authorities

All News 16:24 March 30, 2023

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea asked the Montenegrin government to extradite Do Kwon, the wanted co-founder of Terraform Labs arrested and detained in the Balkan country, earlier than the United States did, South Korean authorities said Thursday.

According to South Korea's justice ministry and diplomatic authorities, the government submitted an extradition request for Kwon last Friday, about a day earlier than the U.S. government filed its extradition request.

Citing Montenegrin Justice Minister Marko Kovac, Vijesti, a Montenegrin newspaper, had reported the U.S. filed an extradition request a little bit earlier than South Korea. It said an extradition request from South Korea was conveyed to Kovac on Tuesday.

A justice ministry official here also refuted the news report, saying, "As far as I know, Kovac only referred to the fact that both South Korea and the U.S. filed extradition requests without mentioning who was first."

The 32-year-old, whose full name is Kwon Do-hyung, is locked behind bars in a detention facility in Spuz, a small town just north of the capital Podgorica. After being on the run for nearly 11 months, he was arrested last week while attempting to travel to Dubai with a forged passport.

Kwon faces an investigation in South Korea for alleged fraud and tax evasion after investors in the company's cryptocurrencies -- TerraUSD and Luna -- pressed Ponzi-scheme charges against him following the coins' massive crash last May.

Kwon is also wanted by the U.S. where he was charged with fraud by federal prosecutors in New York.

It is unclear whether Kwon would be sent to South Korea because the country requested his extradition first.

The Montenegrin minister said which country Kwon will be extradited to will be determined on the basis of the location and the time of his criminal offense and other factors.

TerraUSD was designed as a stablecoin, which was pegged to stable assets like the U.S. dollar. But holders of TerraUSD and Luna lost more than an estimated US$40 billion in market value after the stablecoin plunged far below its $1 peg last May.

Kwon Do-hyung (Yonhap)

Kwon Do-hyung (Yonhap)


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