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SEC Clinches Court Triumph Over Terraform Labs and Do Kwon Amid Ongoing US-South Korea Extradition Battle

Terraform co-founder Do Kwon found liable of crypto investment fraud
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In an important ruling that reverberates through the corridors of the crypto world, a New York court has decisively sided with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its case against Terraform Labs and its embattled founder, Do Kwon. This legal skirmish forms part of a broader narrative that includes a still-unresolved extradition tiff between the United States and South Korea over Kwon’s fate.

Filed in February 2023 by the U.S. SEC, the civil complaint alleged that Kwon and Terraform had “perpetrated a fraudulent scheme that led to the loss of $40 billion of market value,” whereby they lied to investors about the prospects and stability of the crypto tokens they issued.

Despite the United States’ ongoing efforts to secure Kwon’s extradition from South Korea, the New York court’s decision marks a significant blow to the former crypto titan, accused of deceiving investors during the catastrophic 2022 Terra debacle. The incident, a cataclysmic $40 billion investor wipeout triggered by the exploitation of Terra‘s algorithmic stablecoin UST and its sister token LUNA, stands as a stark reminder of the volatile nature of cryptocurrency ventures.

Read our reports on Do Kwon here on FinTelegram.

Kwon, who helms Terraform Labs and once held the crypto world in thrall, found himself ensnared by legal troubles after attempting to flee Montenegro with forged documentation last year. His capture has since ignited a legal tug-of-war over his extradition, a contest currently tipped in South Korea’s favor.

Amid this international drama, a Reuters report has shed light on the deliberations of a seven-member New York jury, which found against Do Kwon and Terraform Labs in the SEC fraud complaint. Central to the SEC’s argument was the duo’s claim that Chai, a widely-used Korean payment application, was leveraging Terraform‘s blockchain network for transaction processing — a claim the jury found to be misleading. Furthermore, the verdict exposed the falsehoods propagated by Kwon and Terraform regarding UST’s reliability.

Gurbir Grewal, the SEC’s enforcement director, commented on the verdict’s broader implications, emphasizing the tangible repercussions of non-compliance and the lack of registration within the crypto sphere. He lauded his team’s efforts to safeguard investors and stressed the pressing need for the crypto market to align with regulatory standards.

In response to the court’s decision, Terraform‘s legal representatives expressed profound disappointment, contesting the verdict’s alignment with the presented evidence. They reiterated their stance that the SEC lacked the jurisdictional authority to prosecute the case, signaling a possible precursor to further legal contention.

This case emerges as a rare judicial victory for the SEC in the crypto domain, following its previous setbacks in cases against Grayscale and Ripple in 2023. It underscores the ongoing regulatory and legal challenges facing the crypto industry, highlighting the critical balance between innovation and investor protection in this rapidly evolving sector.

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