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News/Crypto Fallout Deepens: Kwon's Fate Uncertain, Silvergate Sued for FTX Role

Crypto Fallout Deepens: Kwon's Fate Uncertain, Silvergate Sued for FTX Role

Van Thanh Le

Mar 22 2024

4 months ago4 minutes read
High-Tech Courtroom with Holographic Judge

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Montenegro Supreme Court Halts Do Kwon’s Transfer to South Korea

The extradition of the embattled crypto figure, Do Kwon, has been put on hold by the Montenegrin Supreme Court. The court's decision overturns previous rulings by lower courts that had paved the way for Kwon to be extradited to his native South Korea, where he faces charges related to the colossal $40 billion collapse of the Terra ecosystem in May 2022.

The founder of the now-defunct cryptocurrency project, Terra, has been embroiled in a legal tug-of-war between South Korea and the United States, both vying for the opportunity to prosecute him on criminal charges ranging from fraud to market manipulation. Kwon's arrest in March 2023, when he attempted to use fraudulent Costa Rican documents to travel to Dubai after months of being a fugitive, ignited a high-stakes extradition battle.

Broken Piggy Bank Overflowing with Colorful Crypto Coins.webp

The decision by the Montenegrin Supreme Court effectively presses pause on the extradition process, halting Kwon's transfer "until a decision is made" on his final destination. This development comes in the wake of a statement issued by the Office of the Supreme State Prosecutor, which argued that the previous appellate court decision exceeded its authority, asserting that the jurisdiction to determine Kwon's extradition location rests solely with the nation's minister of justice.

As the legal saga unfolds, Kwon's troubles are far from over. His company, Terraform Labs, is set to face charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a trial scheduled to commence next week. The outcome of this case, coupled with the ongoing extradition saga, will undoubtedly shape the future of one of the most controversial figures in the crypto world.

Silvergate Bank's Legal Woes Deepen Over Alleged FTX Fraud

Silvergate Bank, once a prominent player in the crypto industry, finds itself entangled in a legal battle as a federal judge greenlighted a class-action lawsuit alleging the bank's complicity in the fraud perpetrated by the now-defunct FTX exchange and its trading arm, Alameda Research.

Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro of the San Diego federal court denied Silvergate's dismissal bid, ruling that the plaintiffs – FTX users – had adequately alleged the bank's knowledge of the fraud yet chose to benefit from it, unjustly enriching itself at the expense of the users. The court's decision hinged on the recognition that Silvergate owed a duty of care to FTX customers, as its banking network was designed primarily to facilitate fund transfers to crypto exchanges like FTX.

Documents reveal that Silvergate not only banked both FTX and Alameda but also processed transfers that directed FTX customer funds into Alameda's accounts. Notably, FTX lacked its own bank account initially, prompting customers to wire their funds directly to Alameda. The judge asserted that allowing customer funds to flow into non-FTX accounts was a foreseeable risk that could lead to fraud and harm the owners of those funds.

Silvergate's incentives, the court noted, were closely tied to the adoption and success of FTX's platform and app, as the bank's business model revolved around facilitating transactions for the exchange. This dynamic fueled Silvergate's continued acceptance of FTX and Alameda customer deposits and transfers, propelling its annual income from a mere $7.6 million before FTX to a staggering $75.5 million after banking the exchange.

In its defense, Silvergate argued that its dealings were not a substantial factor in preventing FTX customers from withdrawing their funds – a responsibility that lay squarely on the shoulders of FTX and its co-founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. The bank further contended that, had it denied FTX's transfers, the exchange would have simply found another banking partner, a claim the judge dismissed as "highly speculative" given Silvergate's status as one of the few banks servicing the crypto industry.

This legal saga unfolds more than a year after the initial lawsuits against Silvergate were filed in February 2023, mere months after FTX's monumental collapse into bankruptcy in November 2022. Silvergate itself crumbled a month later, in March 2023, adding to the cascading effects of the FTX debacle on the crypto ecosystem.

Crumbling Temple with Glowing Blockchain Network.webp

In a parallel development, John J. Ray, the current CEO overseeing FTX's bankruptcy proceedings, has contested claims made by the platform's former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, and his defense team. In a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan, Ray refuted their assertions regarding FTX's financial state during the Chapter 11 filing and the extent of Bankman-Fried's personal losses. 

Ray's team has dedicated a year to stabilizing FTX from a severe crisis, aiming to position the company for a reorganization plan that could significantly benefit creditors. However, Ray emphasized that the bankruptcy process alone would not fully compensate creditors and investors due to Bankman-Fried's fraudulent activities, underscoring the gravity of the situation.

Conclusion

Do Kwon's extradition to South Korea is on hold while the Montenegrin Supreme Court decides who gets to try him. Meanwhile, his company faces a US SEC trial next week. Silvergate Bank's legal woes deepen as a judge allows a lawsuit accusing them of being complicit in FTX's fraud to proceed.

FAQs

1. Why is Do Kwon facing extradition?

Do Kwon is the founder of Terraform Labs, the company behind the Terra ecosystem that collapsed in May 2022, causing billions in losses. He faces criminal charges in both South Korea and the US related to the collapse.

2. What is the current status of Do Kwon's extradition?

Montenegro's Supreme Court put a hold on Kwon's extradition to South Korea. The court must now decide whether to send him to South Korea or the US, which also requested his extradition.

3. What is the lawsuit against Silvergate Bank about?

FTX users are suing Silvergate Bank, claiming the bank knew about FTX's fraud but still processed transactions, allowing the exchange to misuse customer funds. Silvergate denies the allegations.

4. How is the FTX bankruptcy proceeding going?

FTX's new CEO is refuting claims by the exchange's former CEO about its financial health. The goal is to stabilize the company and create a plan to repay creditors, but full compensation is unlikely due to the alleged fraud.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT. 

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