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Do Kwon associate Han bought $2.2m flat in Belgrade during manhunt

Do Kwon associate Han bought $2.2m flat in Belgrade during manhunt
People & CultureRegulation
Do Kwon's associate Han Chang Joon bought a luxe flat in this building in Belgrade, property records show. Photo: Ana Ćurić

Do Kwon stayed in a €2 million ($2.2 million) apartment in an exclusive neighbourhood in Belgrade while wanted by authorities, one building away from the city’s chief of police, DL News can reveal.

Official documents from the Serbian Land Registry obtained by DL News show the third floor duplex is owned by Han Chang-Joon — the South Korean national arrested alongside Kwon when the pair tried to flee from Montenegro to Dubai on a private jet last month.

Among Serbia’s elite

Han also owned two parking spaces in the residence, which is named Ambassador Park and is located in a district favoured by diplomats and wealthy business people.

Kwon, who has been charged with fraud by South Korean and US prosecutors in connection with the $60 billion collapse of Terra last May, hid out in Serbia for months. Until now, there were no details on where he stayed or how he evaded authorities for so long. Interpol, the international police agency, issued a red notice calling for his capture last September. South Korean police also issued an arrest warrant for Han.

Serbian Land Registry, Do Kwon.

It turns out Kwon and Han, the former chief financial officer of Kwon’s Terraform Labs, were brazenly moving among the Serbian capital’s elite. Belgrade’s police chief Veselin Milic owns an apartment in the building next door to Ambassador Park, according to documents reviewed by DL News. He is a former anti-corruption advisor to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

Six-minute drive

Moreover, the South Korean embassy is just a six-minute drive from the 10-year-old residential building. This means prosecutors from the East Asian nation who visited Serbia in recent months to work with local law enforcement officials may have been far closer to their quarry than they ever imagined.

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On Wednesday, South Korean crypto news outlet Digital Assets reported that the IP address and social network accounts linked to Kwon match the address of the apartment in Ambassador Park, and cited Serbian authorities as the source of its information.

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When visited by DL News on Wednesday, the gated entrance to the building was manned by a security guard who did not answer questions from DL News, nor did he allow access to look at the intercom.

But a nanny who said she had worked in the complex for years said she had seen Han and another man several months ago.

“It grabbed my attention because they were sitting in a black expensive-looking car outside the complex for a while and then a slimmer man entered with glasses, and he had a lot of hair,” she told DL News as she left the building. When then shown a recent photo of Han she confirmed that he was the man she had seen.

More questions

The revelations raise more questions about the thoroughness of Serbia’s investigation into the whereabouts of the two fugitives. As a member of Interpol, the Balkan nation is obliged to work with prosecutors from other member nations to locate fugitives.

In March, DL News reported that Do Kwon had used his own name to set up a new company in Serbia just weeks after Interpol put him on its wanted list. South Korean officials had also publicised their arrest warrants for Han.

Yet Kwon would occasionally pop up on podcasts and social media and seemed cavalier about his run from the law. “They obviously know where I am,” he told The New York Times in early March.

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And he and Han managed to travel to neighbouring Montenegro in early March, hire a private jet, and make an attempt to wing away to the crypto-friendly enclave of Dubai. It was only the discovery of their fake Costa Rican passports by alert border officials that led to their arrest on the tarmac of Podgorica Airport on March 23, Montenegrin officials said.

The Serbian Police did not immediately respond to comment when questioned by DL News on Wednesday.

In a March 23 interview with DL News, Serbian Head of High-Tech Crime Prosecution Office Branko Stamenkovic said that their leads had gone cold, but that the investigation was ongoing. “If I knew where he was, I would have arrested him”, he said.

The Montenegrin jail where Kwon and Han now sit is a far cry from Dedinje, the quiet, leafy neighbourhood in Belgrade they frequented.

The Montenegrin jail where Kwon and Han now sit awaiting adjudication of a long list of charges is a far cry from Dedinje, the quiet, leafy neighbourhood in Belgrade they frequented. Its streets are lined with parks and embassies, and many of the luxury residences feature spas, swimming pools, and high security.

Ambassador Park comprises 25 apartments, including a penthouse with an “exclusive roof terrace pool”, according to a brochure. The apartments also come with video surveillance and underground parking.

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The Belgrade real estate market has been booming post-pandemic combined with demand of new residents from Russia and Ukraine. The value of Han’s apartment was €2 million euros, putting its price per square metre at €5,000, according to a person familiar with the property.

The complex next door to Ambassador Park includes a supermarket and a pharmacy. According to a 2022 investigation from regional media outlet Balkans Investigative Reporting Network, Ambassador Park is owned by UniCredit Bank Austria, and is a member of Milan-based UniCredit Group. DL News could not independently verify who currently owns the building. BIRN, which was probing construction licences, reported at that time that Chief Milic lived in the building. Milic did not immediately return a call for comment.

Kwon spotted

When DL News visited the property on Tuesday, staff said it was possible they had spotted Kwon and Han.

“I think I might have seen him here. I cannot be sure, I see a lot of people on a daily basis, but I would say I saw this man,” one supermarket employee told DL News when shown a picture of the former fugitives.

In the drug store, an employee agreed: “Yes, this face looks familiar, it is possible that he came by.” When asked if she perhaps recognised him from the news, she said no, she didn’t know who the person from the photo is. “I am not 100% sure, but my impression is that I saw him here,” she said.

Kwon’s assets

Security guards stationed at both front and rear entrances to the luxury residence next door said “no foreign people live here” when shown a picture of Do Kwon and Han Chang-Joon, but confirmed the police chief was a resident.

Meanwhile, the Seol Southern District Prosecutor’s Office said April 11 that it is waiting for a court order to freeze $5.3 million of Kwon’s assets in South Korea, the national press reported.

Both South Korea and the US are expected to seek extradition of Kwon. Kwon and Han are also facing possible charges from Montenegrin prosecutors for allegedly forging passports and other identification papers.