Home Blockchain Terra’s Do Kwon Wins Extradition Appeal in Montenegro, Avoids U.S. Charges

Terra’s Do Kwon Wins Extradition Appeal in Montenegro, Avoids U.S. Charges

Terra’s Do Kwon Wins Extradition Appeal in Montenegro, Avoids U.S. Charges

Hassan Shittu

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| 3 min read

Terra's Do Kwon Wins Extradition Appeal in Montenegro, Avoids U.S. Charges

Do Kwon, the founder of Terraform Labs, has received a legal reprieve as a Montenegro court overturned a previous ruling for his extradition to the U.S.

The Appellate Court of Montenegro overturned the extradition decision made by a court in Podgorica, sending the case back for retrial. 

Do Kwon Wins Extradition Again 

Following a panel meeting on March 5, 2024, the Appellate Court of Montenegro announced its ruling, which granted the defense attorneys’ appeal and overturned the decision to deport Do Kwon. The court nullified the previous decision of the High Court in Podgorica and returned the case for retrial and decision at the first instance.

This ruling comes after the Appellate Court of Montenegro had previously canceled Kwon’s extradition approval to either the U.S. or South Korea in December 2023, leading to the case being sent back to the Podgorica Basic Court for retrial. The High Court of Podgorica had earlier determined the legal requirements for Kwon’s extradition to the United States for criminal prosecution while denying extradition to South Korea in November 2023, leaving the final decision to the Minister of Justice of Montenegro.

The Appellate Court cited “significant violations of the provisions of criminal procedure” as the basis for overturning the previous decision. It specifically mentioned the lack of “clear and valid reasons” for crucial data in the extradition request letter.

Moreover, the court noted that the Podgorica court failed to properly link a document with its attachments and evaluate it in accordance with the provisions of the Law on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. This law outlines the procedures for handling requests for international legal assistance from foreign judicial authorities, particularly when such requests are submitted electronically.

Do Kwon has successfully appealed against his extradition to the U.S., where he faces fraud charges related to the collapse of the Terra ecosystem. This marks Kwon’s third victory against the Montenegro High Court, which had previously upheld extradition requests from both South Korea and the United States.

Kwon’s successful appeals occurred on December 14 and February 8, overturning previous decisions to extradite him to either the U.S. or South Korea. Despite the High Court’s initial validation of the extradition requests, Kwon persisted in his appeals.

The latest decision comes after reports from local media on February 21 indicated that the High Court had ruled in favor of extraditing Kwon to the U.S. while rejecting South Korea’s request. However, with this new ruling, the case will be sent back to the first-instance court for reconsideration.

The Legal Battle Intensifies As Terraform Labs and Co-Founder Fight SEC’s Fraud Allegations

Terra’s collapse in mid-2022 resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in investor funds. Following Terra’s failure, Do Kwon fled to Montenegro, where he was later arrested on charges related to the possession of falsified official documents. Alongside his co-defendant, Han Chang-joon, Kwon is serving a four-month prison sentence while awaiting the country’s decision on his extradition destination. In December, the Montenegro High Court ruled that extradition requests for Kwon were still pending, marking another legal victory against extradition.

According to allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Terraform Labs and its co-founder, Kwon, orchestrated a fraudulent scheme that resulted in the loss of at least $40 billion in the market.

The legal battle between Kwon, Terraform Labs, and the SEC in the Southern District of New York United States District Court is escalating as they seek to challenge the SEC’s complaint. One focal point of contention is the evidence provided by Dr. Matthew Edman, a primary expert witness for the SEC. The defendants argue that errors and modifications to relevant legislation warrant a reevaluation of the court’s decision to reject their request to exclude Dr. Edman’s testimony.

Recent reports suggest that Kwon may miss the start of his trial on SEC fraud charges, scheduled for March 25, due to delays in his extradition process. This delay adds further complexity to the ongoing legal proceedings.

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