Montenegro Premier Personally Invested in Kwon’s Crypto Holdings

(Bloomberg) -- Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milojko Spajic personally invested in Terraform Labs Pte cryptocurrency holdings years before the company collapsed, US court filings showed.

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The discovery raises questions over why the company’s founder Do Kwon chose the small Balkan nation when he tried to flee prosecution. He was jailed in Montenegro in March 2023 while traveling on a fake passport and has been facing dueling demands for extradition from the US and South Korea.

A 36-year-old former banker and a pro-Western politician, Spajic has previously said it was Singapore-based company Das Capital SG, in which he was a partner, that made the investment.

The holdings at some point grew to almost $90 million, according to an independent Montenegro newspaper Vijesti, which first broke the news. Emails and phone calls to Spajic’s cabinet in Podgorica were not returned on Wednesday and Thursday. Spajic also declined comment to Vijesti, the newspaper said.

The revelations are playing out in a NATO member and a European Union candidate country, where the prime minister has been leading a fragile ruling coalition since October. The opposition has already demanded Spajic’s resignation.

The prime minister’s investment made before he took office was detailed in a lawsuit brought against Terraform Labs and Do Kwon by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In a letter filed by a SEC accountant analyzing Terraform’s crypto asset contracts, Spajic was identified as an early investor in April 2018.

Kwon faces prosecution linked to the $40 billion collapse of the TerraUSD stable-coin in 2022. The bankrupt crypto company and Kwon personally were found liable for fraud following a civil trial in New York in April. Terraform has agreed to pay $4.5 billion to settle the case with the SEC.

Spajic’s LinkedIn page, which lists him as Milojko Mickey Spajic, shows he worked in Singapore between 2014 and 2020 as a credit analyst and investor. He returned to Montenegro in late 2020 to serve as finance minister in a government that collapsed in February 2022.

Kwon has already served his local sentence and since March has been kept at a shelter for undocumented foreigners. Montenegro’s justice minister has favored sending the 32-year-old to the US, while courts support his wish to be extradited to his home country of South Korea. After multiple rulings, Kwon’s fate is now again in High Court’s hands.

--With assistance from Philip Lagerkranser and Misha Savic.

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