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Hard slog on the Do Kwon trail paid off for DL News’ investigative reporters

The media are often criticised for their short attention span. Front-page splashes merit only a few inside paragraphs within a couple of days. They disappear before the week is out.

The arrest on March 23 in Montenegro of crypto fugitive Do Kwon illustrates the point. Prominent newspapers and broadcasters in Europe, Asia and the United States gave it headline treatment.

That is unsurprising. Kwon was wanted in his native South Korea and in other countries for his part in the $60 billion collapse of Terra, the biggest crash in crypto history. He had been on the run for months.

But within 24 hours, most mainstream media had let the story drop.

NOW READ: Do Kwon was nabbed in a private jet on tarmac in Montenegro with false Costa Rican passport

In contrast, DL News’ team of investigative journalists, Isabel Hunter and Ana Curic, continued to pursue the story. They are still doing so.

After trawling through official records of the Serbian Business Registry, they discovered that Kwon and his associate Han Chang-Joo had set up a company in Belgrade while hiding from the police. They identified and spoke to the lawyers who helped the fugitives.

Their reports also included:

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The last point emerged at a press conference given by Montenegro’s justice minister Marko Kovač. Apart from Ana and Isabel, only a handful of local journalists, two Bloomberg reporters and one from South Korean state television were present.

While the days after the arrests were a time of frenzied activity for them, it followed months of hard slog.

NOW READ: Meet the Montenegro prosecutor set to take the first crack at Do Kwon in court

They started trying to find Kwon in January, after news reports said he was in Serbia.

“It was not easy to track him,” Ana said. “The investigation from the Serbian side just started and they could not talk about the case at all. The Ministry of Interior didn’t answer our requests. There were no traces of him being in Serbia at that moment. The authorities never revealed how he entered the country.”

She added: “We were trying to get the story from different angles. We were talking to people from the Serbian crypto community, then to a few lawyers specialised in blockchain and anybody who might have any idea. There were no leads there, no traces. People we spoke to were almost suspicious.”

NOW READ: US requests extradition of Do Kwon from Montenegro

The reporters also checked the two Korean restaurants in Belgrade and a recently opened Korean supermarket, but found no trace of Kwon.

The Serbian media, for its part, showed almost no interest.

“During our interview with Serbian High-Tech Crime Prosecutor Branko Stamenkovic, he said that we were the only ones asking him about the case,” Ana said.

Serbian media interest picked up only after DL News revealed that Kwon and Chang-Joon had registered a company in Belgrade in mid-October.

NOW READ: Meet the professor ‘obsessed’ with tracking crypto fugitive Do Kwon across the blockchain

“That was republished by the main independent Serbian media, which is kind of understandable because it was directly connected to Serbia and it was the first proof ever published of him being in Serbia while on the run from Interpol,” Ana said.

Ana and Isabel had been searching for traces of the crypto fugitives in official records in Serbia, but were hampered by the fact that many government databases do not allow searches by name.

NOW READ: Was this Do Kwon’s getaway jet to Dubai?

“We heard that the South Korean prosecution had leaked files shared by the Serbian investigation that they had set up a company,” Isabel said.

“We reached out to the Serbian Business Registry and asked if South Korean citizens with the name of Do Kwon and Han Chang-Joon were in their database. We also submitted their visa number which was listed in the US Securities Exchange Commission filing.”

Isabel added: “The registry was very helpful and came back with the company name and the details, which meant we were then able to access the official company registration documents.”

Revealing that the pair had registered a company was a scoop. In spite of that, however, none of the mainstream media which reported the arrest of Kwon and Chang-Jooncontacted either Ana or Isabel for more details.

NOW READ: Do Kwon created new company in Serbia while on the run from Interpol — and these are the lawyers who helped him

The two Koreans have been charged with travelling on false documents. They are being held for 30 days while the Montenegrin authorities consider requests for their extradition.

Asked how they planned to continue to cover the story, Isabel and Ana said they had

lots of leads to follow.

“We’re investigating how they managed to evade the authorities for so long, how they got the allegedly falsified documents, where they were staying, and who has been helping them,” Isabel said.

They will also be keeping a close eye on the extradition process.

If you have a hot tip on where Ana and Isabel should look next, or want to tip us off about another story, feel free to email us on

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