Terra's Do Kwon Finds Temporary Freedom in Montenegro

While Do Kwon awaits the Montenegrin Supreme Court’s decision about his fate, the U.S. shows no mercy to SBF as it readies to sell two of the former FTX CEO’s private planes.

Do Kwon's ongoing saga has hit a pause as he has been released from prison in Montenegro while the Supreme Court considers extradition requests from the US and South Korea. Meanwhile, the US is looking to sell two jets belonging to Sam Bankman-Fried, to prevent asset devaluation ahead of his sentencing for multiple felony charges. Additionally, hospitality worker Jian Wen has been convicted in the UK for laundering $2.5 billion in Bitcoin.

Do Kwon, the co-founder of Terraform Labs, has been released from prison in Montenegro while the Supreme Court deliberates on extradition requests from the United States and South Korea. His release on Saturday, Mar. 23, came after the suspension of a lower court's ruling for his extradition to South Korea due to allegations of fraud connected to the Terra Luna collapse, which erased around $60 billion in market value in 2022.

Do Kwon was initially detained for traveling with fake documents and, after the end of his sentence for this offense, was taken to a police directorate for foreigners due to his seized travel documents. The decision to release him was made by the Council of the Supreme Court, which is considering a review that could allow or deny his extradition to South Korea. This will be a pretty important decision as penalties in South Korea are considered to be much milder compared to those he could face in the U.S., where he is wanted for the collapse of the TerraUSD algorithmic stablecoin.

Kwon's legal representation confirmed his release, and it was later reported that he was moved to a shelter for foreigners, with plans to appeal for his freedom until an extradition decision is reached. This comes after a challenge by the chief prosecutor in Montenegro, who pointed out some serious procedural errors in the process favoring South Korea's extradition request. The court's further deliberations on the extradition to either the US or South Korea are still pending, with no specific timeline provided.

If extradited to the United States, Kwon faces eight felony charges, stemming from his arrest in March of 2023 alongside Han Chang-joon, Terraform Labs’ former CFO, for using falsified travel documents.

U.S. to Sell Bankman-Fried's Jets

Things are also not looking too good for SBF at the moment. Prosecutors in the US are looking to sell two private aircraft that belong to Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the crypto exchange FTX, ahead of the conclusion of forfeiture proceedings related to his criminal case.

The move, which was announced by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, is a proactive step to prevent the devaluation of the Bombardier Global and Embraer Legacy jets, which were tied to Bankman-Fried's alleged criminal activities and are valued at $15.9 million and $12.5 million, respectively. The government plans to cover maintenance and delivery costs for the planes, totaling almost $2 million, from the proceeds of the sale.

The decision to sell the aircraft comes after prosecutors argued that these assets were subject to forfeiture due to their connection to Bankman-Fried's criminal activities. An agreement was reached for the delivery of the Embraer Legacy to a Florida airport for sale by the U.S. Marshals Service, which already has custody of the Bombardier Global after a February 2023 warrant.

This sale is part of broader efforts to forfeit assets tied to Bankman-Fried, who was convicted on seven felony counts in November of 2023. The list of assets includes stock in Robinhood, various currencies, cryptocurrency in Binance and Binance.US accounts, and political contributions made by Bankman-Fried. Both he and his attorney, Marc Mukasey, have not objected to the sale of the aircraft.

Bankman-Fried is currently incarcerated, awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for Mar. 28. Prosecutors have recommended a sentence of 40 to 50 years, while his defense has proposed a much shorter 6.5-year term.

Historic Bitcoin Laundering Conviction

Other crypto criminals are also making headlines. A hospitality worker named Jian Wen has been convicted of money laundering involving a staggering $2.5 billion worth of Bitcoin.

Jian Wen's sudden shift from a modest lifestyle to one of luxury caught the attention of authorities. Previously living in a flat above a Chinese restaurant, Wen moved to a fancy six-bedroom house in North London, renting it for around $21,420 per month. However, it was her attempt to buy a $30 million mansion in London that raised a lot of suspicion and led to a comprehensive investigation.

Authorities delved into Wen's financial activities, scrutinizing 48 electronic devices and thousands of digital files, many of which required translation from Mandarin. Despite her claims of earning millions from Bitcoin mining, Wen faced difficulties passing money laundering checks while attempting to buy high-value properties in London.

The investigation ended in Wen's conviction for engaging in a money laundering arrangement, with sentencing scheduled for May 10. U.K. police have described the seizure as the largest of its kind in the country.

Interestingly, this conviction comes amidst the ongoing debates over the role of cryptocurrencies in money laundering. A recent report from the United States Treasury Department challenges the narrative that digital currencies are the preferred medium for laundering money, pointing out that cash is still the top choice due to its anonymity and stability. This perspective is supported by Nasdaq's "Global Financial Crime Report," which estimates that about $3.1 trillion in illicit funds were circulated through the global financial system in 2023, without specifically implicating Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.