Montenegro court approves extradition of ‘cryptocurrency king’ Do Kwon

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – A court in Montenegro said on Friday it had approved the extradition of cryptocurrency entrepreneur Do Kwon, leaving a minister to decide if he will be handed over to South Korea or the United States, which both want him.

Do Kwon, who is charged in the U.S. with a multibillion-dollar fraud, and his ally were sentenced in June to four months in prison for using forged passports.

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.

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 U.S. charges were announced, but a spokesperson for the company he founded, Terraform Labs, said in July it would fight the “misguided and deeply flawed” U.S. allegations.

The High Court in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica said on Friday Do Kwon had agreed to be extradited to South Korea under an abbreviated procedure but that the justice minister would have the final say as multiple states have requested his handover.

The decision will be made after Do Kwon completes serving his prison sentence for document forgery, the court said.

Do Kwon´s lawyer in Podgorica was not immediately available to comment.

A South Korean national, Kwon is the former CEO of South Korea-based Terraform Labs, the company behind the stablecoin TerraUSD that collapsed in May 2022, roiling cryptocurrency markets.

He was detained in late March along with Han Chang-joon, Terraform Labs’ former finance officer, as they tried to board a flight to Dubai from Podgorica.

Following Kwon’s arrest, the U.S. District Court in Manhattan made public an eight-count indictment against him for securities fraud, wire fraud, commodities fraud and conspiracy.

In late May, a Montenegrin court 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.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic Editing by Mark Potter)