The United States and South Korea are competing to get their hands on Kwon Do-hyeong, also known as Do Kwon, the disgraced founder of collapsed crypto company Terraform Labs.

South Korean national Do Kwon was arrested last week in Podgorica, the capital city of the Balkan country of Montenegro.

Kwon and a second person identified as Hon Chang Joon, had been arrested when they tried to board a flight to Dubai.

Extradition requests

Now Reuters has reported the Montenegrin Justice Minister Marko Kovac as saying on Wednesday that both South Korea and the US are seeking the extradition of Do Kwon.

“The extradition of Do Kwon (and the other suspect)… has been officially requested” by South Korea and the United States had asked for Do Kwon’s extradition as well, Kovac was quoted as telling a news conference in the capital Podgorica.

But Kovac reportedly said the two had been charged in Montenegro with forging documents and would be extradited only after a trial and any sentence served in Montenegro.

Reuters reported that Montenegrin police charged the two suspects with forging official documents after police alleged they had found doctored Costa Rican passports, a separate set of Belgian passports, laptop computers and other devices in their luggage.

Kovac said the South Korean and US extradition requests also called for the handover of the computers.

A court in Podgorica ordered them placed in 30-day pre-trial detention, Reuters reported.

On the run?

In 2022 Do Kwon had moved from South Korea to Singapore with his family following the collapse of his $40 billion digital asset project – which included the stablecoin Terra and its sister token Luna.

It is thought that nearly 250,000 people had invested in Terraform Labs’ coins, and blockchain analytics firm Elliptic estimated that investors in TerraUSD and Luna lost an estimated $42 billion.

The reclusive Kwon insisted neither he nor his company made money on the crash, but he did not exactly help his cause.

He is known for his caustic remarks about detractors, and told a YouTube crypto channel a week before the demise of TerraUSD, “95 percent [of coins] are going to die – but there’s also entertainment in watching companies die too.”

Just before the implosion he told followers on Twitter, “I love chaos.”

But on 13 May 2022 he tweeted, “I am heartbroken about the pain my invention has brought on all of you.”

But authorities did not agree with his protestations of innocence and in September 2022 South Korea issued an international arrest warrant for Do Kwon, as well as five other unnamed people he worked with at Terraform Labs.

Interpol also issued a “red notice” for his arrest.

The arrest warrant alleged violations of the South Korea’s capital markets law, and all six individuals were said to be located in Singapore.

The only problem was that Do Kwon was nowhere to be found.

Do Kwon previously denied that he was in hiding or on the run, but he did not reveal his whereabouts after police in Singapore could not locate him.

In December South Korean police said they believed Do Kwon was hiding in Serbia, after he had travelled via Dubai to an unknown country after leaving Singapore.

South Korean police last month travelled to Serbia to track him down.

Last month the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it had “charged Singapore-based Terraform Labs PTE Ltd and Do Hyeong Kwon with orchestrating a multi-billion dollar crypto asset securities fraud involving an algorithmic stablecoin and other crypto asset securities.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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