Tron founder and Huobi adviser Justin Sun didn’t seem to want anyone to know he’s had to add an extra “ex” to “his excellency,” an honorific that he’s been proudly using for over a year.
The Granada Government named Sun as its ambassador and permanent trade representative to the World Trade Organization in December 2021. But only seven months later, the New National Party that appointed him lost the general election to the National Democratic Congress.
After the NDC took over, “all ambassadors were recalled,” the Grenada Broadcasting Network reported on Monday in an article about the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing charges against Sun and a slew of celebrities for illegally promoting Tronix (TRON) last week.
Up until this morning, Sun was adamant that he was still a diplomat and shared a screenshot of the WTO “internal terminal” showing his title with The Block. He denied the GBN report from earlier this week in an interview with the outlet, saying it’s “not true,” then contradicted himself on Twitter.
But even as Sun acknowledged that he was no longer an ambassador, he made it sound as though the appointment had only just ended today, and not eight months ago as it now appears.
“As my term as the Ambassador of Grenada to the World Trade Organization comes to a close, effective 31 March 2023, I want to express my gratitude for the wonderful experiences and the amazing support that I have received during my time here,” he wrote at the start of a 13-tweet thread.
Among the replies to Sun’s announcement was a fawning message from the official Tron Community account: “For us, you will always be an ambassador for the blockchain and an ambassador for the great kingdom of #TRON.”
Attorney David Lesperance has been advising wealthy clients and their families on citizenship-by-investment or “Golden Visa” programs through his firm, Lesperance & Associates, for years. He doesn’t count Sun among his clients, but said in his experience diplomatic appointments can be pretty fickle—even if they have “permanent” in the title.
“A diplomatic appointment can be taken away in a moment. It is at the pleasure of the government,” he told Decrypt. “So if the government changes, or they decide you are no longer serving well, or you’re a scoundrel, then they can cancel it.”
It’s a much quicker process than when a country cancels someone’s passport or strips them of citizenship.
Because diplomatic appointments can be so fleeting, Lesperance saw people try to claim they were diplomats to get through airport security when he was working for the Canada Border Services Agency in Toronto.
“Crew and diplomats come through a special line. And I remember this guy showing me a hokey diplomatic passport,” he said. “I asked him what the purpose of his trip was, and he said he was going to meet the foreign minister.”
But there had been no call from foreign affairs about an arriving diplomat and the traveler’s claims about being a diplomat turned out to be fake.
It’s worth pointing out that Sun’s status as a diplomat was very much real, even if it was brief.
Grenada sent Sun on a tour of the Caribbean after his appointment in December 2021, which included stops at the Panama Canal and Dominica. He even went so far as telling Bloomberg that he would be phasing out his participation in crypto-related projects, like Tron, to make way for his duties as an ambassador.
Around the same time as his appointment, Sun revealed he was the one who placed the anonymous, winning $28 million bid for a trip to space on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. From a separate Twitter account, which appears to have been set up specifically for his new gig as an ambassador, Sun said he’d “be bringing the Grenadian flag” with him.
Even now Sun is still calling himself a “permanent representative of Grenada to the WTO” on his LinkedIn profile and has kept the “H.E.” (which stands for “his excellency”) abbreviation in his Twitter bio. At the Milken Institute’s Asia Summit in September 2022—a few months after he’d lost his ambassadorship—an announcer’s booming voice introduced him by his diplomatic title before he was interviewed on stage by Curtis S. Chin, chair of the institute’s Asia center.
Chin asked him once about his appointment, then pressed again: “Why and how did this happen?”
“This has become like a promotion for the Grenada citizenship program,” Sun said, laughing. “Grenada is trying to attract lots of foreign investment opportunities and wants to attract lots of good entrepreneurs to the islands.”