Riccardo Spagni — also known online as ‘fluffypony’ — the former developer of the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero was detained last month in the US state of Tennessee. And now he’s trying to return to his homeland of South Africa.
Spagni joins a long line of well-known entrepreneurs and engineers who made it big with cryptocurrencies but ran into legal issues afterward. Anti-virus magnate John McAfee was charged with tax evasion, Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht was convicted, and BitMEX co-founder Arthur Hayes surrendered to corruption allegations.
Spagni was arrested, however, not as a consequence of one of Monero’s suspected illegal transactions coming to light, but as a result of a non-crypto crime, he did a decade ago.
Between 2009 and 2011, while working as an IT manager at Cape Cookies, a company based in South Africa, the South African citizen was accused of fraud.
That isn’t to say that his experience with cryptocurrency hasn’t played a part. Spagni is now being detained without the option of posting bail, according to the warrant reviewed by CoinDesk, for two major reasons.
One is the estimated worth of his watch, which is valued at about $800,000. Spagni’s bitcoin holdings are the second factor.
This makes him a flight risk, according to the police. The Monero developer is now in the custody of the US Attorney General in Tennessee, pending extradition to South Africa, as of August 3.
For over a decade, the case has remained unsolved.
According to court records, Spagni committed invoice payment fraud 10 years ago while working as an IT manager for Cape Cookies, a South African cookie firm.
Spagni’s previous employer alleges he cheated them of $100,000 by creating fraudulent invoices from fictitious companies.
Such transactions might be linked to his personal account as well.
Spagni was accused of fraud and associated offenses in a local Cape Town court, but he did not show up for further hearings. South African law enforcement agencies attempted to find him at this postal office, but quickly realised he had fled to the United States. In April, a warrant for his arrest was issued.
The developer was apparently on his way to Mexico when his journey was stopped short by law police in Tennessee on July 20 at a refueling break.
Due to his social media handle and the crucial role he played in the development of Monero, Spagni is known in the crypto community as ‘fluffypony.’
In comparison to competitors such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, this cryptocurrency guarantees more privacy and security.
Despite the fact that Spagni is a well-known figure in the crypto field, Monero’s current team has yet to release a statement. It’s possible that this is due to the fact that he hasn’t been personally involved with the Monero project since 2019. Via Twitter Sashka Spagni, his wife, sent a message on her husband’s behalf.