Crypto entrepreneur ‘Fluffypony’ has been warned to appear in Cape Town Regional Court on a decade-old charge
Riccardo ‘Fluffypony’ Spagni, the former chief executive and public face of private cryptocurrency Monero, has been warned to appear in Cape Town Regional Court on fraud charges dating back to 2011 when he was an IT manager for the cookie company Cape Cookies.
Cape Cookies alleged that he diverted R1.45 million through fake invoices while employed by the company. Spagni has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the state alleges he failed to appear in Western Cape Regional Court last year and fled the country.
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He was arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 20, 2021, while attending a bitcoin conference in the United States, following the filing of an extradition request by South Africa.
The South African Police Service said a warrant for his arrest had been issued, but police were unable to locate his whereabouts. They later discovered that he had fled the country for the United States. Spagni maintained that he had not fled the country but was in the United States on business and still intended to return to South Africa.
He was held in Tennessee for 60 days before volunteering to return to South Africa to face the charges against him.
United States denied him bail as he was considered a flight risk due to “a history of non-appearance and evasion of justice” and had the means to flee, in the form of an $800,000 watch and significant crypto assets.
Spagni’s lawyers argued that the arrest warrant was irregular and unjustified.
“Under the circumstances, and however interpreted, our client was arrested for his alleged failure to appear in court, and nothing more. This matter is currently being reviewed with the authorities and what is sought is an agreement between all parties on new hearing dates for the hearing of the case,” Spagni’s attorney said in a statement. released last year.
This week, the Western Cape Regional Court confirmed that Spagni is still under caution, as he was before his arrest in the United States.
In August 2021, a message from Spagni was tweeted on his behalf by his wife Saskia: “Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding regarding the scheduling of hearing dates in an old case, which I have been trying to resolve since 2011 I have been charged with contempt of court and [am] currently awaiting extradition. I hope to resolve this misunderstanding in a short time. In the meantime, my affairs will continue under the direction of my associates.
2/2 I was convicted of contempt of court and am currently awaiting extradition. I hope to resolve this misunderstanding in a short time. In the meantime, my affairs will continue under the direction of my associates.
— Saskia Spagni (@Spatzipantz) August 2, 2021
In court filings, Spagni’s lawyers explain that due to the Covid shutdowns, their client was instructed by the magistrate not to appear in court on April 7, 2020 and to wait for the resumption in July 2020.
Spagni was never summoned and the case was postponed several times, but “at no time was [Spagni] warned, summoned or otherwise ordered to appear in court, from the period of confinement, until his arrest on July 11, 2022,” reads a filing filed by Spagni’s legal team.
Ironically, Spagni is worth many times the amount diverted according to Cape Cookies. He denied any wrongdoing.
More commonly known by its social media name “Fluffypony”, Spagni has become one of the powerhouses of Monero, a cryptocurrency with enhanced privacy and anonymity features, making it easy to use for illicit activities and a favorite piece to use on the dark canvas.
Monero, with a market capitalization of $2.55 billion, is the 28e biggest crypto. It traded at a high of $475 in August 2021, but has since fallen to $139.
Moneyweb contacted Spagni’s attorney, Darren Hanekom, who declined to comment on the matter.
Monero to USD