The crypto entrepreneur Do Kwon has denied being in hiding, even as Interpol issued a “red notice” for his arrest after the collapse of the Terra project he founded.
After South Korean prosecutors said he was “obviously on the run”, Kwon tweeted that he was making no attempt to evade law officers. “I’m writing code in my living room … I’m making zero effort to hide,” he said. “I go on walks and malls, no way none of [crypto Twitter] hasn’t run into me the past couple weeks.”
Asked about the Interpol red notice, he said he knew nothing. “For something that has ‘notice’ in the name it sure gives no notice. Tried to search it [on the Interpol website], found nothing.”
Kwon did not, however, respond to direct questions, including from the Guardian, about where exactly he was. The entrepreneur moved from South Korea to Singapore shortly after his project collapsed overnight from an $80bn (£74bn) system to almost nothing, starting the wider crisis that wiped two-thirds of the value off crypto markets. Last week, however, Singaporean authorities said he was no longer there.
On Monday, South Korean prosecutors said Interpol had issued a “red notice” for Kwon, a formal request to all participating law enforcement agencies “to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action”. No such notice has been made public, but Interpol said the “majority” of red notices were issued in private to law enforcement only.
Kwon is chief executive of Terraform Labs, which created the UST and Luna cryptocurrencies. The coins collapsed in value in May, dragging down rival currencies and ushering in a “crypto winter”.
The authorities have also issued requests to two big crypto exchanges, OKX and KuCoin, to freeze some of the 3,000 bitcoins believed to be owned by Kwon. The bitcoin was sent to the exchanges, where it can be easily converted into conventional currencies, on 15 September, shortly after the first warrant for his arrest was put out, according to CoinDesk Korea.
With Kwon wanted by authorities in two countries, his denials on Twitter of being on the run were apparently frustrating South Korean authorities. “He is obviously on the run,” the prosecutors’ office said on Monday, “and has no intention to appear before us for questioning.”
In June, Kwon’s former employees reported that their passports had been seized to stop them from following him, as part of the government’s investigation into the failure of the business.
“The Korean government imposed an exit ban for all ex-[Terra] employees today,” Daniel Hong, one former employee, tweeted at the time. “People being treated as potential criminals like this is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable. Bet anyone who were willing to cooperate would no longer want to after this madness.”