Brown hammer on table

Monero’s Riccardo Spagni charged with 378 charges of fraud and forgery in South Africa

The South African government has charged the former lead maintainer of privacy-focused digital currency project Monero with a staggering 378 counts of fraud and forgery. Ricardo Spagni is accused of defrauding his former employer in South Africa of 1.45 million rands ($93,400) a decade ago.

Known in the digital currency circles as Fluffypony, Spagni served as the lead maintainer for Monero for five years, stepping down in December 2019. In August 2021, he was arrested in the U.S. at the request of the South African government for allegedly defrauding a tech company he worked for between 2009 and 2011. 

As South African outlet MyBroadband reports, prosecutors in the country have now charged Fluffypony with 378 counts of crime—126 each for fraud, forgery, and uttering. 

However, the developer’s lawyers have moved to have the charges dropped, arguing that the prosecutors filed them too late, violating the due process restrictions.

In court filings in May, Spagni claimed that he was working on a return to South Africa so that he could face his charges.

“I am actively working with my attorneys on a way to return to South Africa as soon as possible so I can address this matter and get it behind me once and for all,” the filing stated.

In an accompanying affidavit, he revealed that he waived his right to an extradition hearing in the U.S. and urged the court to speed up his extradition to South Africa to face his charges. 

Tennessee Magistrate Judge Alistair Newbern granted his extradition request. 

“The transfer of Spagni and any seized evidence shall be at a time and place mutually agreed upon by the United States Marshal and the authorized representatives of the Government of South Africa,” the judge ruled.

Spagni is accused of forging invoices while employed by Cape Cookies in South Africa in the space of two years to defraud his company of $93,000. He allegedly intercepted invoices submitted by Ensync, another local company, and would inflate the prices and change the destination of the payments to bank accounts he controlled. 

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