Riccardo Spagni, the former maintainer of privacy coin monero, was arrested in Nashville, Tenn. on July 20 and will be extradited to South Africa to face fraud charges for crimes unrelated to crypto.
Spagni, known online as “Fluffypony,” is accused of stealing approximately $100,000 from his former employer, Cape Cookies, by generating false invoices from fictional entities and routing payment to his personal bank accounts between 2009-2011.
Spagni was previously charged with fraud and related charges in a regional court in Cape Town, but pleaded not guilty and failed to appear in court. According to court documents, South African authorities could not find Spagni at his home address in South Africa. After speaking with Spagni’s friends and family they learned Spagni had fled South Africa.
South African police issued a warrant for Spagni’s arrest in April.
Spagni’s wife, Sashka Spagni, tweeted a message on her husband’s behalf on Monday in which he said, “Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding with regards to the setting of court dates in an old matter, which I have continuously been trying to resolve since 2011, I have been held in contempt of court and currently awaiting extradition.”
Spagni added that he was hoping to resolve the issue soon and that “in the meantime my business affairs will continue under the leadership of my partners.”
Though Spagni stepped down from his day-to-day leadership role in 2019 after five years with the privacy-focused project, he was still a public representative of Monero and often took responsibility for coordinating Monero’s press and public-facing information.
Spagni was arrested in Nashville when a private charter jet he was using for a trip from New York to Los Cabos, Mexico, stopped for fuel.
According to the arrest warrant, Spagni is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and will be held without bail until his extradition.
Spagni is believed to have “significant cryptocurrency assets that would enable him to flee” as well as a “watch valued at $800,000,” according to the warrant.
UPDATE (August 2, 21:48 UTC): Updated with Spagni’s response as tweeted by his wife.