South Korean national Do Kwon, the founder of the now-collapsed Terra Luna cryptocurrency, is set to be extradited from Montenegro, where he has been imprisoned as a fugitive since March.
The High Court in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica approved the extradition on Friday, saying Kwon had agreed to be extradited to South Korea under an abbreviated procedure.
But it said the country’s justice minister will now decide whether Kwon will go to South Korea or the United States, where he faces charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, commodities fraud and conspiracy.
Montenegrin authorities detained Kwon in late March along with Han Chang-joon, former finance officer at Terraform Labs, the company behind the stablecoin TerraUSD.
They were detained as they tried to board a flight to Dubai from Podgorica. Both had fled to Montenegro after South Korean authorities issued an arrest warrant for Kwon amid a spectacular collapse in crypto markets around the world.
Police said after arresting them they had found doctored Costa Rican passports, a separate set of Belgian passports, laptop computers and other devices in their luggage.
Following Kwon’s arrest, the US District Court in Manhattan also made public its eight-count indictment against him for multi-billion dollar fraud.
At a hearing in May, the defendants denied the charges pressed by the Montenegrin prosecutor. Kwon’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment when the US charges were announced, but a spokesperson for Terraform Labs said in July it would fight the “misguided and deeply flawed” US allegations.
During the hearing, a Montenegrin court also scrapped a bail of 800,000 euros for the pair, saying it could not be taken as a solid guarantee, nor their promise they would not run away once released from detention.
In June, Montenegro sentenced Kwon and Chang-joon to four months in prison for using forged passports. The decision on Kwon’s extradition will be made after he completes the sentence.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena