The South African government has charged Riccardo Spagni, also known as “Fluffypony,” with 378 counts of fraud, forgery and a 1.5 million South African rand dispute with his former employer.
Spagni, co-founder and former chief developer of privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero (XMR), stepped down from his position after five years with the project in December 2019.
Previously, Spagni waived his right to an extradition hearing in the United States and asked the court to expedite his transfer to South Africa so he could face charges there.
The private plane that was taking Spagni to a cryptocurrency conference in Los Cabos, Mexico, stopped in Nashville, Tennessee, to refuel, where U.S. law enforcement officials took him into custody.
According to the case file, the programmer had just emigrated to the United States from South Africa and had purchased property in New York City.
The state has filed charges against Spagni for stealing R1,453,561.47 ($93,532) from his previous company, Cape Cookies. He is believed to have falsified invoices intended for IT provider Ensync by inserting Cape Cookies credentials into them.
According to court records, Spagni increased the invoice amounts while the real Ensync invoices were paid later at the original amounts.
Spagni is also suspected of fabricating invoices for at least three fictitious IT vendors using fake contact information. In response to the charges, he has pleaded not guilty.
South African authorities issued an arrest warrant for Spagni and demanded that U.S. authorities detain him for extradition.
After South African police failed to provide proper documentation for an extradition hearing in September 2021, he was released from prison.
I am actively working with my lawyers to return to South Africa as soon as possible so that I can resolve this issue and forget about it once and for all,” the programmer said.
Court documents filed in May 2022 indicate that South Africa issued an arrest warrant for Spagna on 378 separate counts.
Spagni’s defense demanded those documents be removed from the record, claiming their late submission by the government violated procedural safeguards.