- Former Monero lead developer Riccardo Spagni has been arrested in Nashville over South African fraud charges
- Spagni is wanted by South African authorities over an alleged fraud involving a former employer, Cape Cookies
- Spagni failed to appear in a Cape Town court twice before leaving the country for the U.S.
Ricardo Spagni, the former lead maintainer of privacy coin Monero, was arrested in Tennessee yesterday and faces extradition to South Africa over an alleged fraud involving a former company. Spagni, whose Twitter handle is Fluffypony, is accused by his former employer, Cape Cookies, of stealing approximately $100,000 through false invoicing from fictional entities between 2009 and 2011 and sending payments to his personal bank accounts. Spagni was found to have fled South Africa to escape the charges having failed to appear in court on the same charge recently but US authorities executed a South African arrest request.
Spagni Failed to Appear in Court
Spagni was due to appear at the Cape Town Regional Court in relation to the charges but failed to appear twice, prompting a local manhunt. It soon emerged that he had left the country and, as such, has been an international fugitive for almost four months. The South African government issued an international arrest warrant on July 20 and Spagni was traced to Nashville when a private charter jet he was stopped for fuel on its way from New York to Los Cabos, Mexico. He is now in the custody of U.S. marshals and awaiting extradition.
Fluffypony Claims “Misunderstanding” is Behind Arrest
Spagni’s wife Saskia posted a message from Riccardo through her Twitter account stating that the situation was down to nothing more than a “misunderstanding with regards to the setting of court dates in an old matter”:
2/2 I have been held in contempt of court and currently awaiting extradition. I am hoping to resolve this misunderstanding within a short while. In the meantime my business affairs will continue under the leadership of my partners.
— Saskia Spagni (@Spatzipantz) August 2, 2021
The warrant states that Spagni’s “significant cryptocurrency assets” make him a serious flight risk meaning he will likely not be granted bail and he will be retained in a U.S. holding cell while he, presumably, fights extradition. Spagni left his role as Monero lead maintainer in 2019 after five years at the helm.