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CZ, SBF & Do Kwon: The Tricky Case of Extraditing Crypto Villains

LUNA founder Do Kwon will be extradited to the US whilst ex-Binance CEO CZ is prohibited from flying to the UAE.

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Charging crypto villains is easy. Especially when their crimes are as egregious as SBF's, Do Kwon's and even CZ's. However, capturing and detaining them is another story.

Before Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) faced his month-long trial in New York, the FTX founder found himself in the custody of Bahamanian officials. SBF had made quite the luxurious life for himself in the Bahamas before his empire came crashing down on him.

With both the US and Bahamanian governments debating over which country should charge him, SBF found himself in a custody battle between the two countries.

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Eventually, SBF was extradited to the US and now faces over 100 years in jail for one of the biggest financial frauds in history.

It's a similar tale with LUNA founder Do Kwon, who was locked in a tug-of-war between the US and South Korea. Sitting in a Montenegro jail cell since March, Do Kwon's fate has been fought over by both countries who demand his extradition.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Montenegro Justice Minister Andrej Milovićplans has privately said he plans to extradite Do Kwon to the US to face fraud and securities-law charges related to the collapse of LUNA.

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As for Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the US has declared the now-former Binance CEO cannot return to the United Arab Emirates before his sentencing in February 2024.

Zhao pleaded guilty of violating the Bank Secrecy Act last month and was released on a $175 million personal recognizance bond, which originally allowed him to return to the UAE, where his children and partner live.

Prosecutors on Thursday revoked his right to return to the UAE as he was deemed a flight risk. District Judge Richard Jones, of the Western District of Washington, agreed with the Department of Justice.

"The defendant has articulated justifications that in most cases would cause the government’s motion to be denied," the judge wrote.

"However, a critical feature of the government’s motion is the extent of the defendant’s enormous wealth and absence of an extradition treaty with the UAE. In addition, the defendant’s family resides in the UAE and there is no indication he has any other ties to the United States. While the defendant has indicated he will be asking for a lesser sentence, the government has indicated it may be asking for as much as 18 months of incarceration. Consequently, the defendant is not facing an insignificant sentence."

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Trusting Villains

Legal proceedings can take months, if not years to clear. Crypto moguls and villains of this scale have the resources to flee and seek refuge elsewhere.

When SBF was extradited to the US, he was forced to remain in jail ahead of his trial as the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Lewis Kaplan deemed him to be a flight risk.

Now, US prosecutors are just as fearful of CZ's movements. And rightly so. These crypto villains may have earned the trust of the crypto industry at one point, but regulators are far less trusting of their behaviour.

Due to the international nature of the crypto industry, jurisdictions around the world are now clambering over each other to charge these crypto criminals. Sentencing and imprisoning the world's most notorious crypto figureheads is quite the flex for a country's law enforcement, but is far from a simple task.