The unfolding legal saga surrounding Terraform Labs and its founder, Do Kwon, recently saw a new development with a former Terra development team leader stepping forward to testify. This development, reported by the Korean daily Chosun on February 5, marks a significant turn in the ongoing courtroom drama.
At the heart of this episode is the witness, known simply as “Lee,” whose testimony against Do Kwon and Terraform Labs co-founder Shin Hyun-seung was heard by the 14th Criminal Division of the Seoul Southern District Court. Lee’s involvement adds a new layer to the complex narrative surrounding Terra’s legal challenges.
During his testimony, Lee provided insights into the legal hurdles that Terra faced, attributing his knowledge to discussions with Do Kwon. He spoke in detail about Terra’s operational goals, particularly the initiative to establish LUNA as a functional currency through the “ChaiPay” payment system.
This strategy was based on a model predicting substantial profits from an anticipated rise in LUNA’s value. However, Shin’s defense team was quick to challenge Lee’s assertions, questioning the validity of his claims and the supposed unawareness of Kwon and Shin regarding the impracticality of Terra’s payment methods.
The backdrop to these courtroom events is the dramatic collapse of TerraUSD and LUNA, overseen by Terraform Labs. In May 2022, both cryptocurrencies plummeted, leading to a staggering $45 billion loss in market capitalization within a week, an event that reverberated throughout the broader crypto market, causing hundreds of billions of dollars in losses.
Adding to Terraform Labs’ woes, the company is embroiled in bankruptcy protection proceedings in the United States. This follows a ruling by a U.S. court that Terraform Labs and Do Kwon violated U.S. laws by not registering two cryptocurrencies—LUNA and MIR—as securities, as per the SEC’s classification. Facing charges of multibillion-dollar fraud in the U.S., Do Kwon’s legal troubles are far from over.
Chief Financial Officer Han Chang-joon Extradited to South Korea
Another twist in the tale involves Terraform Labs’ former financial officer, Han Chang-joon. Recently extradited to South Korea, Han’s return marks a significant step in the case. He was arrested alongside Do Kwon at Podgorica airport in March 2023, ending a half-year international manhunt. The Montenegrin police’s announcement came after the decision by the country’s Ministry of Justice. Han faces serious charges in South Korea, including fraud in financial investment services, with potential life imprisonment as the maximum penalty.
Država Crna Gora je danas postupila po zamolnici Južne Koreje, i po odluci Ministarstva pravde predala Haan Chang Joon-a nadležnim organima njegove matične države. pic.twitter.com/OvQ1qNyxr1
— Ministarstvo pravde Crne Gore (@PravdaCG) February 5, 2024
Han’s extradition followed a four-month prison sentence in Montenegro for attempting to travel with forged documents. The focus now shifts to Do Kwon, with his lawyer, Goran Rodic, confirming that they are awaiting a decision on his extradition. Both South Korean and U.S. authorities have been vocal in their demand for Kwon’s extradition, linking him to the catastrophic $60 billion collapse of Terra’s algorithmic stablecoin in 2022.
Today, the state of Montenegro acted on the request of South Korea, and according to the decision of the Ministry of Justice, handed over Han Chang Joon to the competent authorities of his home country.
In a stark reminder of the international reach of this case, a South Korean court issued an arrest warrant against Kwon and others in September 2022 for violating Korean capital markets laws. This was closely followed by an Interpol red notice for Kwon’s arrest, amplifying the global nature of the investigation.
Montenegro’s justice ministry played a critical role in this latest development, acting upon South Korea’s request to extradite Han Chang Joon. This move underlines the significant international collaboration in addressing the fallout from Terra’s collapse and the ensuing legal battles.
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