CEO Morning Brief

US Regulator Seeks US$5.3b Fine for Terraform Labs, Kwon

Publish date: Thu, 25 Apr 2024, 09:41 PM
TheEdge CEO Morning Brief

(April 24): The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wants to impose a US$5.3 billion (RM25.32 billion) fine on Terraform Labs Pte Ltd and its co-founder Do Kwon, the inventor of the failed TerraUSD stablecoin.

Details of the proposed fine, which would be the crypto industry’s largest, come after Kwon and Terraform were found liable for fraud earlier in April, following a two-week trial in New York.

Kwon and Terraform made more than US$4 billion in 'ill-gotten gains' from unregistered sales of tokens including Luna and UST, the SEC said in a filing with the Southern District Court of New York. Terraform’s UST, an algorithmic stablecoin that was supposed to be pegged to the price of the US dollar, wiped out US$40 billion in market value when it collapsed in 2022.

The court should send “an unequivocal message that this sort of brazen misconduct” will not be tolerated, the SEC said in the filing.

The proposed fine comprises a US$4.2 billion disgorgement penalty and US$545 million in prejudgement interest, as well as US$420 million and US$100 million civil penalties for Terraform and Kwon respectively.

All told, the fine would surpass the US$4.3 billion paid by Binance to settle anti-money laundering and US sanctions violations charges with the US Department of Justice in November 2023, itself one of the largest corporate agreements in US history.

Lawyers representing Kwon and Terraform challenged the SEC’s claims, arguing that token sales took place outside of the US and didn’t violate federal securities law.

Kwon was arrested in Montenegro a year ago and convicted of attempting to travel using a fake passport. He is currently awaiting extradition either to the US or his native South Korea, and faces criminal fraud charges in both countries.

The SEC also asked the court for a permanent bar on Kwon, who owns 92% of Terraform, serving as an officer or director, and seeks a 'sworn accounting' of his assets.

Source: TheEdge - 25 Apr 2024

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