American authorities have asked for crypto fugitive Do Kwon to be extradited to the US from Montenegro, where he was caught with fake documents as he tried to flee the country.
“The US has requested extradition only of Do Kwon through diplomatic channels,” said Marko Kovač, minister of justice for Montenegro, at a press conference Wednesday in Podgorica, the Balkan nation’s capital. “They requested he should be detained. Up until now we didn’t have any other contact with the US. That doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. In terms of Serbian authorities, we have not been in touch.”
Wanted by prosecutors in South Korea in connection with the $60 billion collapse of Terra in May, Kwon has been on the run from an Interpol red notice for months. Kwon, a South Korean native, was detained along with his associate, Han Jang-Choon, on a private jet at Podgorica Airport on March 23.
South Korea and the US have each requested evidence found on the two men when they were arrested, including laptops and mobile phones. Prosecutors in Seoul and New York have charged Kwon with defrauding investors in various digital tokens issued by Terra and its interrelated ventures.
First in line
Kovač said it was still unclear which nation would be first in line for extradition. The US wants Kwon while South Korea has asked for both Kwon and Han Chang-Joon.
“When we receive several extradition requests it’s based on several factors — the severity of the offence the location and the time and the order that we received the request and several other factors,” he said.
Kwon and Han were attempting to leave Montenegro for Dubai with forged Costa Rican passports, officials said. The two men are being held for 30 days pending the outcome of an investigation.
The justice minister said Wednesday that if the two men are charged and convicted of possessing fake identification documents they will serve their sentences in Montenegro before they are extradited to “one of the several countries that want them.”
It will be up the courts to decide if Kwon and Han are extradited, and to which nation, the minister said.
Kwon was hiding out from authorities in Serbia for several months, DL News has learned. Not long after Interpol called on its member nations to apprehend Kwon on a South Korean warrant, the Stanford-educated entrepreneur created a new company under his own name in Belgrade, DL News reported Monday.
The former “crypto king” also didn’t have any apparent trouble arranging a flight on a Bombardier Challenger jet for the seven-hour journey to Dubai.
As the extradition process commences, Kovač said his office has not been in contact with counterparts in Belgrade.
“If the need arises we will be in contact with he Serbian authorities, as we would with any other, but we don’t see the need right now. As Montenegrin MOJ, we are the ones conducting the extradition process now,” Kovač said in response to DL News’ questions.
Updated on Wednesday to report details of the justice minister’s comments regarding extradition and Kwon’s time in Serbia and attempted flight to Dubai.