Crypto Caribbean: Tron founder to become diplomat for Grenada

Justin Sun, founder of the Tron cryptocurrency platform, was appointed Grenada’s representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

Justin Sun, founder of Tron, is phasing out his participation in crypto-related projects as he embarks on diplomatic career [File: Fan Kar-Long/Bloomberg]

Justin Sun, founder of the Tron cryptocurrency platform and one of the more high-profile individuals in the digital-asset world, said he’s embarking on a new career as a diplomat for the Caribbean nation of Grenada.

At the same time, Sun, who said he’s been a resident on the 135-square-mile island since 2019, is phasing out his participation in crypto-related projects. That includes Tron, the blockchain that’s a top network for controversial stablecoin Tether and supports hundreds of gambling and gaming apps.

Sun, 31, first gained notoriety for the saga of his delayed meeting with billionaire investor Warren Buffett in 2020 and a bungled Tesla giveaway a few months earlier. He was outbid at the last moment at an auction for a non-fungible token that was sold for a record $69 million, and has even faced a revolt at a crypto social network company he acquired.

“Our crypto industry has got into the stage, we really need sovereign states and regulators and international organizations to recognize the potential and the benefits of the blockchain technology,” Sun said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “That’s why I think I will focus lots of my energy, to try and push blockchain technology and cryptocurrency – the importance of all of this in developing countries and developed states as well. I will also try to promote new technology development in Grenada.”

He was appointed Grenada’s representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, according to Oliver Joseph, minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and Caricom Affairs.

Other crypto entrepreneurs and ventures have been moving to the Caribbean. Exchange FTX recently relocated to the Bahamas. Other island nations have been seeking to be at the forefront of innovation, with Barbados recently opening an embassy in Decentraland, a crypto metaverse. Puerto Rico has become a U.S. tax haven for the crypto wealthy.

“The Caribbean has a huge potential to become a very good place for entrepreneurship, and also be the next Singapore,” Sun said. “The reason is, Caribbean states are very close to the United States, which I think is very important. But also it is important you are not in the United States. If you are in the United States, you are going to fall into a lot of very strict regulation, and also taxation. In the U.S., the regulatory environment is not good to cryptocurrency.”

Tron Exit

Before jumping into crypto, Sun co-founded Peiwo, a popular Snapchat-like app for China with millions of users. Like many of the early crypto endeavors, he then started Tron in 2017 by using much of Ethereum’s open-source computer code.

Chinese participants in Tron’s $70 million initial coin offering were refunded their money after China cracked down on ICOs. The Tron Foundation and Sun face a class-action lawsuit over the ICO in the Southern District of New York. Sun said he is not leaving the effort due to trouble with any regulators worldwide.

Sun has already phased out of leading the Tron Foundation, which was formed to further the development of the blockchain. The network is home to more than 1,300 active distributed applications, according to DappRadar. The foundation will close in July, having used up nearly all of its funds, Sun said.

He has also withdrawn three nodes that support the Tron network that he controls directly or through his companies. Tron transactions are verified by 27 such super representatives. The idea is to have its community of users run Tron, Sun said. Poloniex, where Sun is an investor, is a Tron super representative, according to crypto data tracker Tronscan.

Tron has a market valuation of about $8.8 billion, according to Sun said he owns about 4% of Tron’S TRX tokens. BitTorrent’s BTT token is valued at about $2.7 billion.

Source: Bloomberg