One of Monero’s Few Eponymous Leading Developers Was Arrested in the U.S.

By Bill Toulas / August 4, 2021

Riccardo “Flyffpony” Spagni, one of the few eponymous developers of the Monero cryptocurrency project and the past protocol’s lead maintainer, has been arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, on fraud charges relevant to alleged crimes that took place in South Africa between 2009 and 2011. The prosecutors claim Spagni used forged invoices to purloin about $100,000 from "Cape Cookies," his former employee.

U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart left no margins for bail requests, asking for the immediate extradition of the man to South Africa. M.J. Stewart considered that Spagni holds roughly $800,000 in crypto assets, so he has a strong motivation to flee and avoid being charged. As such, the man will go through a court hearing process tomorrow, when the matter of the extradition will be decided.

The lawyers of Spagni have submitted a motion where he calls the case against his client “fatally flawed” because it lacks evidence and also comes over a decade after the alleged crimes took place. Also, the claimed offense should be punishable by up to 5 years in prison according to South African law, not 20 years as the U.S. state prosecutor estimated it. This correction is put forth as a way to lessen the severity and maybe even play a role in the extradition decision. Also, a legal statement released yesterday disputes the validity of the warrant of arrest and also raises the matter of “trial readiness” in the Cape Town court.

In the meantime, the Monero team decided to take an extra cautious approach by moving a respectable amount from the General Fund to another wallet that Spagni has no access to, just in case. The authorities haven’t seized any devices from the man yet, but the Monero team decided it's better to be safe than sorry at this point.

Monero’s privacy is definitely on the crosshairs of the authorities as they consider it a medium for tax evasion and crime funding, and while we don’t say this arrest has anything to do with trying to crack the ledger, nobody in the U.S. certainly wishes to go lenient on those supporting it. Also, the fact that this case unfolds in the way that it does a full decade after the alleged acts took place is definitely weird, as it’s impossible to explain how ‘Cape Cookies’ didn’t notice or didn’t launch an investigation on that $100k hole earlier.

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