July 17, 2024

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Inside latest crypto firm paying billions to end legal troubles

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South Korean authorities are seeking the arrest of Do Kwon, co-founder and chief executive officer of Terraform Labs. His company is behind the now-collapsed terraUSD and luna cryptocurrencies. South Korean prosecutors are now seeking to freeze bitcoin linked to Kwon.

Woohae Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Months before Sam Bankman-Fried and the FTX fraud was exposed, and years before Binance and its founder, Changpeng Zhao, would admit fault and settle with the U.S. for several billion dollars, Do Kwon was widely regarded as crypto’s top villain for nearly dismantling the entire sector with his failed U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin.

It was May 2022, and Kwon was riding high. His company, Terraform Labs, was behind one of the most popular U.S.-pegged stablecoins on the planet, the venture funding was rolling in, his coins (dubbed terra and luna) were collectively worth tens of billions of dollars, and like Bankman-Fried, Kwon had landed a spot on the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Perhaps in his greatest show of confidence in the empire he had built, just one month before it all collapsed, Kwon posted that he named his newborn daughter Luna. “My dearest creation named after my greatest invention,” he wrote.

And then it all came crashing down.

Whereas most stablecoins are backed up by a mix of cash and other assets to match the value of tokens in circulation, Kwon’s invention was instead backed by a complex set of code. When the algorithm failed in May 2022, it cost investors $40 billion in market value overnight, led to devastating losses to multiple investors, and contributed to the collapse of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital in June 2022, followed by crypto lenders Voyager Digital, then BlockFi, then Genesis — and, in a roundabout way, FTX too.

The stablecoin’s implosion also rocked confidence in the sector and accelerated the slide in cryptocurrencies already underway as part of a broader pullback from risk.

In the years…



2024-06-16 11:12:00

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