Ricardo Spagni, aka FluffyPony, is being extradited to South Africa over fraud allegations at a previous post. Spagni was the lead maintainer of the Monero (XMR) blockchain before leaving the role in 2019.
He also cofounded Yat, a project building internet identities using Emojis.
The allegations are tied to his previous employment as an information technology manager at a company called Cape Cookies, where he worked between 2009 and 2011.
Spagni appeared in the 2020 Luno documentary – ‘Banking on Africa: The Bitcoin Revolution’ where he was featured as a key crypto authority in South Africa.
South Africa is alleging that Spagni forged invoices to defraud Cape Cookies. Specifically, he made the company wire 1,453,561.47 South African Rand, or roughly $99,185 into his own accounts using information from a client’s invoices.
According to court documents, while an employee of Cape Cookies, Spagni intercepted invoices from another company, Ensync, relating to information technology goods and services it had supplied Cape Cookies. He then knowingly used false information to fabricate similar invoices purporting to be from Ensync, relying on details including this company’s Value Added Tax (VAT) number and bank account information.
Spagni then inflated the prices for the goods and/or services.
Spagni already pleaded guilty to the allegations when he was charged in the Western cape Regional Court based in Cape Town. The South African government further claims that it proceeded to begin a trial, and presented Spagni with evidence, but he failed to appear in court.
Furthermore, the government tried to locate Spagni at his home address, and through friends and family, but it was unsuccessful. The upon further investigation, it was discovered that he had fled South Africa, hence an arrest warrant issued on April 19, 2021.
Spagni was arrested on July 20 as his private jet made a stop over on his way from New York to Mexico. He is expected to face hearing on August 5, 2021 where it will be decided if he will be held pending hearing.
The United States government considers him a flight risk with a strong motivation to flee to avoid facing charges. The Attorney General’s office there has asked the courts to deny any bail requests from Spagni until extradition proceedings are complete.
If convicted, he could be jailed for up to 20 years in South Africa.
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