Monero’s ‘fluffypony’ deserves bail for agreeing to help Interpol, say lawyers

A court document filed by Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni’s legal team has revealed Monero’s former maintainer agreed to assist Interpol on an undisclosed investigation back in March.

Spagni’s counsel wrote the filing in hopes of securing their client’s bail while he awaits extradition to South Africa.

There, a court trial was underway on charges of fraud unrelated to crypto. Spagni allegedly took just shy of $100,000 from former employer Cape Cookies, a cookie company, between 2009 and 2011.

Spagni is widely known as the face of Monero. He was the privacy-centric crypto’s lead maintainer and ‘spiritual leader’ between 2014 and 2019 (three years after the alleged fraud) before stepping down to decentralize the project.

  • In 2011, Cape Cookies claims Spagni submitted fraudulent invoices directing funds to a bank account he controls.
  • The case was dropped in 2012 after Spagni’s team successfully poked holes in the allegations.
  • Five years later, the State prosecutor summoned Spagni again. The trial was postponed — several times due to COVID.

Spagni’s most recent court date was set for April 19, 2021. He wasn’t present. Now, the South African court determined Spagni was a fugitive, and requested the US detain and extradite him.

Fluffypony’s wife Saskia Spagni posted to Twitter on his behalf.

US authorities arrested Spagni in Tennessee on July 21 during a private charter fuel stop en route to Los Cabos, Mexico, noted The Block. He’s been in the custody of US Marshals for the past two weeks.

But Spagni claims the April 19 hearing “was not to reconvene trial, but was more akin to a status conference,” therefore his presence wasn’t required.

Spagni’s $800K watch > Interpol

His legal team goes on to use Spagni’s previous Interpol cooperation as a reason why an arrest warrant was unfounded.

Spagni’s court doc argues the South African court had ample means to confirm his whereabouts before jumping to an arrest warrant and extradition — because he promised to help Interpol back in March.

“Less than a month prior to the arrest warrant being issued, South African authorities were asking for Spagni’s help in an Interpol investigation,” lawyers wrote.

“In response, Spagni willingly gave the South African authorities multiple ways to contact him, none of which the South African authorities used prior to issuing a warrant for his arrest.”

Monero has outperformed Bitcoin over the past five years. The privacy-centric coin has become popular with cybercriminals.

[Read more: IT guy at Polish police headquarters caught mining Bitcoin in secret]

Spagni’s counsel also leveraged their client’s willingness to help Interpol as reason why Spagni should be granted bail until extradited to South Africa.

They said Spagni “heartily accepted” the offer to help the Interpol investigation and therefore “poses zero risk to the community.”

Police had argued Spagni’s $800,000 watch and sizable crypto portfolio meant he was more inclined to go on the run to avoid extradition.

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