A Blow To US Efforts: Montenegro Upholds Decision, Denies Do Kwon’s Extradition Appeal

March 20, 2024

The Montenegrin Appellate Court has upheld the High Court’s verdict, ruling that Do Kwon, the beleaguered CEO of Terraform Labs, should be extradited to South Korea, despite a concurrent extradition claim from the U.S. where he was accused of financial crimes related to the spectacular crash of TerraUSD and LUNA. 

“The Appellate Court of Montenegro, after the session of the panel on March 20, 2024, by decision Kvž. no. 179/24 rejected the appeal of the defense attorneys of the defendant Kwon Do Hyeong and confirmed the decision of the Higher Court in Podgorica Kv. no. 265/24 dated March 6, 2024,” the Montenegro Appellate Court said in a recent statement.

In a recent ruling, the Court of Appeals panel has concluded that the extradition request for Do Kwon, filed by the Republic of South Korea, takes precedence over a subsequent request from the USA. This decision comes after careful evaluation of the initial court’s findings, which aligned with Article 26 of the Law on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. This law comes into play when multiple countries seek the extradition of the same individual. 

Goran Rodic, Kwon’s Montenegrin defense attorney, recently said that the court’s recent extradition ruling is conclusive, leaving no room for an appeal by either the U.S. or Kwon. Earlier this month, a high court in Montenegro decided that Kwon should be extradited to South Korea to answer for charges related to the downfall of his multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency business in May 2022. 

The latest update from the Balkan nation underlined that Kwon’s attempt to appeal this decision was unsuccessful. Last month, Kwon’s legal representatives informed a U.S. court that the trial scheduled for March 25 could go ahead without the crypto executive’s presence, attributing this to “Montenegrin extradition procedures.” 

Kwon’s attorneys were hopeful for a conclusion to the extradition issue by then. Yet, they said that based on Rodic’s declaration, the 32-year-old South Korean crypto entrepreneur would not be extradited by the end of March.

The U.S. criminal case against Kwon, involving eight felony charges, is set to proceed on Monday even in his absence. A Montenegrin court initially decided in February that Kwon should be extradited to the U.S. However, his legal team successfully challenged this decision in March, resulting in South Korea’s extradition request taking precedence.

On June 19, 2023, the Basic Court handed down a four-month jail sentence each to Do Kwon and his associate, Han Chang-joon, for using fake IDs. The duo was apprehended on March 23 of the previous year at Podgorica Airport as they attempted to board a private flight to Dubai, equipped with counterfeit travel documents from Costa Rica.

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