Monero Developer Arrested in US on Fraud Charges at Request of South African Government
Former lead maintainer of Monero Riccardo Spagni, aka Fluffypony, has been arrested in the U.S. and is now waiting for his extradition to South Africa where he will stand trial for fraud. Spagni described the case as “an old matter, which I have continuously been trying to resolve since 2011.”
Fluffypony Arrested, Waiting for Extradition to South Africa
The U.S. government filed a Memorandum of Extradition Law and Request for Detention Pending Extradition Proceedings for Riccardo Paolo Spagni with a district court in Tennessee on July 21.
Spagni, also known as Fluffypony, was formerly a Monero lead maintainer. The court document states that “Spagni is believed to have significant cryptocurrency assets that would enable him to flee.”
The U.S. is “executing its treaty responsibilities and acting at the request of the government of South Africa,” the filing details, adding that the South African government seeks his “provisional arrest with a view toward his extradition to stand trial for fraud.” On July 20, the district court issued a warrant to arrest Spagni for the offense committed in South Africa.
According to the court document, while employed by Cape Cookies CC from Oct. 1, 2009, to June 8, 2011, as its IT Manager, “Spagni knowingly used false information to fabricate” invoices purporting to be from a supplier called Ensync and three other non-existent companies.
He “inflated the prices for the goods and/or services” on each invoice and replaced the supplier’s bank information with his own. The court document details:
In relying on Spagni’s misrepresentations, Cape Cookies paid each invoice by means of electronic funds transfer into bank accounts Spagni controlled.
The evidence indicates that he “received 1,453,561.47 South African Rand, or roughly $99,185, as a result of his efforts to defraud Cape Cookies,” the filing notes.
Spagni was charged in the Western Cape Regional Court, Cape Town, for fraud and other charges but he pleaded not guilty to them.
However, Spagni failed to appear in court for his trial. In attempting to locate him, South African authorities found that he had fled the country. The Magistrate Court of the District of Cape Town, South Africa, proceeded to issue an arrest warrant for him on April 19, 2021.
Spagni issued a statement Monday:
Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding with regards to the setting of court dates in an old matter, which I have continuously been trying to resolve since 2011, I have been held in contempt of court and currently awaiting extradition.
His attorney at Duncan Okes Inc. also issued a statement regarding the case: “In our view, and contrary to accepted practice and procedure and given the circumstances, the issue of the warrant of arrest was irregular and unwarranted.”
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