Judge's hammer

Monero’s Riccardo ‘Fluffypony’ Spagni released from custody in South Africa

The former lead maintainer of Monero Riccardo Spagni has been released from custody days after he was extradited to South Africa from the United States.

Spagni, known in the digital currency circles as “Fluffypony,” was released on a warning by the Cape Town regional court in South Africa. He faces 378 charges of fraud and forgery for allegedly defrauding his former employer in the country of 1.45 million rands ($85,000) over a decade ago.

As per a local report, the Cape Town court was charged with ruling on whether to release Fluffypony from custody pending his trial on the fraud charges. The prosecution and his defense team locked horns over his failure to attend his trial, which had been scheduled for April 2020.

At the time, his lawyers claimed he was at high risk of complications if he was infected with the COVID-19 virus. However, he was later seen on social media posts rubbing shoulders with other digital currency leaders in events, leading the prosecutors to go after him.

In an affidavit, Spagni claimed that his failure to appear in court was not his fault but rather a mix-up with his extradition.

He pledged to appear for his trial whenever required, saying he wouldn’t change his address without notice or endanger the public’s safety and security.

“My family ties are within the jurisdiction of this honourable court and I, therefore, have no intention of evading my trial. I am in a position to travel in order to attend each and every court appearance. I will not intimidate any witnesses in the case against me. I will not conceal or destroy any evidence in the case against me,” his affidavit stated.

Spagni was the lead maintainer of privacy-focused coin Monero for five years, stepping down in 2019. However, before that, he held various other roles worldwide, including in his homeland of South Africa. One of these was at Cape Cookies, a local company that claims he altered invoices, inflated prices, and changed bank accounts to his own, eventually milking the R1.45 million from the company.

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EthereumFTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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