On Thursday, Do Kwon sat on the tarmac of Podgorica Airport in Montenegro in a private jet. The man once hailed as the “crypto king” was travelling on a forged Costa Rican passport in his latest attempt to stay a step ahead of an international police dragnet.
But the law had finally caught up with him.
According to officials, Do Kwon was bound for Dubai. The crypto-friendly city on the Persian Gulf was the apparent next stop in a six month odyssey fueled by $100 million in Bitcoin and the audacity of a man who thought he could escape responsibility for the $60 billion collapse of Terra, the crypto empire he led into ruin last May.
EXCLUSIVE: Do Kwon and Han Chang-joon are escorted by Montenegrin police in handcuffs following their arrest on Thursday@curic_anna & @isabelhunter pic.twitter.com/nTboIIDT7w— DL News (@DLNewsInfo) March 24, 2023
South Korean prosecutors want him on fraud charges. Authorities in Singapore, where Terra is based, are investigating his actions. And on Thursday, a federal grand jury in New York indicted Kwon on eight counts of securities fraud and other charges.
For nearly an hour, Kwon waited while Montenegrin police searched his luggage. They found Belgian identification documents and he was detained and taken from the aircraft along with an associate, Han Chang-joon.
‘Checks carried out by NCB INTERPOL San Jose, Costa Rica, revealed that the documents were forged.’— Montenegro Interior Ministry
The pair were escorted to the public prosecution department in the small Balkan nation’s capital on Thursday night, where they were charged with forgery and travelling on false passports, according to the Interior Ministry of Montenegro.
“Checks carried out by NCB INTERPOL San Jose, Costa Rica, revealed that the documents were forged,” Montenegro’s Ministry of the Interior said in a statement released Friday.
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Moreover, the ministry said the Belgian travel documents found “hidden” in Kwon’s belongings were also deemed to be falsified by Interpol officials in Brussels.
Branko Anđelić, who represents both Kwon and Han, told the local press that they deny the charges. “They said their travel documents are valid, original, and they insisted that the prosecution check it officially,” Anđelić said.
NOW READ: Crypto fugitive Do Kwon plots comeback after $60bn Terra collapse
On Friday, Kwon and Han were hauled into the Podgorica Basic Court to face an investigative judge. Flanked by the nation’s crimson flag featuring a double-headed eagle, the courthouse reeked of cigarette smoke even though the walls were pasted with signs prohibiting smoking.
Police vans were parked out front. Yet save for a couple of photographers, there were no other reporters on hand as the most wanted man in crypto started the first of many closed-door hearings that will decide his immediate fate.
Just a couple of months ago, Do Kwon was staging a comeback and working on several new products and bulking up his engineering department with new hires. He remains “actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the firm,” Zion Schum, Terraform Labs’ head of communications, told DL News.
Terra’s original token, which uses the ticker LUNC, is flat over the last 24 hours and the chain’s total value locked is more than $6 million, according to DeFiLlama.
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Meantime, South Korean prosecutors are winging their way to Montenegro to press for Kwon and Han’s extradition.
Interpol’s office in Seoul confirmed the identities of Kwon and Han, who was a senior executive at Chai, a mobile payments provider in South Korea that has been implicated in alleged fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
When asked about the possible extradition process in a phone call with DL News, Anđelić, Kwon’s lawyer, said: “It wasn’t discussed.”
When pressed further on the matter he said, “Who wants them? I haven’t heard anything like that. Can you share it with me?”