Terra’s Do Kwon Admits to Faking Crypto Trading Volume in Leaked Chat: Court Docs

Crypto Mogul Do Kwon with crypto trading background and a fake stamp.

Disgraced crypto mogul Do Kwon admitted to faking trading volume, court documents from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission show.

A September 22 SEC filing shows a text message exchange between Do Kwon and Daniel Chin, the founder of payments app Chai, where Do Kwon tells him: “I can just create fake transactions that look real…which will generate fees.”

Chin asks Do Kwon what if “people find out it’s fake,” to which Do Kwon responds: “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

Chai partnered with Do Kwon’s Terra to speed up payments. But last year, Terra collapsed and now the SEC is accusing Do Kwon of fraud. In fact, in the SEC’s lawsuit, the agency alleges that the partnership wasn’t anything like what had been marketed to users and that Terra never replaced Chai’s payment systems.

It was a big allegation to make considering that Chai founder Daniel Shin also cofounded Terraform with Kwon in 2018.

In 2019, Terra announced its partnership with Chai, writing in a blog post it would “rebuild the payments stack on the blockchain to simplify the legacy payment system and provide transaction fees at a discounted rate to merchants.”

The company estimated the deal would result in processing “millions—if not billions—in transaction volume.”

“Chai payments did not use the Terraform blockchain to process and settle payments,” the SEC wrote in its complaint. “Rather, Defendants deceptively replicated Chai payments onto the Terraform blockchain, in order to make it appear that they were occurring on the Terraform blockchain, when, in fact, Chai payments were made through traditional means.”

Now the SEC’s new filing sheds new light on the relationship between Do Kwon’s Terraform and Chai.

“For instance, in an extensive private chat between Kwon and Daniel Shin during the early stages of Chai and Terraform’s formation and partnership, Kwon details how he intended to use Chai to create fake transactions on the Terra blockchain, which would appear real and generate fees,” the SEC writes in the court filing.

Do Kwon’s Terra was a massive crypto ecosystem with lots of apps largely focused on algorithmic stablecoins.

It was hugely popular DeFi blockchain and the second biggest after Ethereum. Its native cryptocurrency, LUNA, was in its prime as one of the top biggest digital assets by market cap. But in May 2022, Terra collapsed—leading to a brutal bear market and many crypto projects with exposure to the project to declare bankruptcy.

American and South Korean authorities have since hit Do Kwon with a litany of charges. Authorities arrested him in Montenegro earlier this year on charges of document forgery. After a court found him guilty, he’s been indefinitely been detained in jail and argued against his extradition to the U.S..