Riccardo Spagni, who left Monero in 2019, is currently in US custody awaiting potential extradition to South Africa
US authorities have detained Riccardo Spagni, a former lead developer of Monero (XMR), on charges shown to be unrelated to his role at the privacy-focused coin.
According to the documents at the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the ex-Monero maintainer was apprehended at the request of the South African government, which wants Spagni extradited to answer to charges related to fraud committed between 2009 and 2011.
The US District Court issued the warrant on 20 July 2021, with US Marshals intercepting Spagni on the same day while on a private jet to Los Cabos, Mexico.
The allegations against Spagni
According to the court documents, Spagni worked for Cape Cookies as an IT Manager, a position he allegedly used to fraudulently get paid 1,453,561.47 Rand (roughly $101,000). The fraud charges relate to forged invoices, Value Added Tax (VAT) numbers and bank account details.
"SPAGNI was charged in the Western Cape Regional Court, Cape Town for fraud and other charges arising out of these facts,” the document reads. “He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the trial against him was commenced. Evidence was presented against him, but SPAGNI failed to appear in court."
The Cape Cookies ex-employee has allegedly been on South Africa's wanted list since 19 April 2021 when the Magistrate Court of the District of Cape Town issued a warrant for his arrest. With a formal request from South Africa in place, the US Attorney General's office is said to have sought an arrest warrant.
He is now in custody in the US, as he awaits the resolution of extradition proceedings. The courts have been urged to deny bail, with Spagni described as a potential flight risk.
If he's extradited to South Africa, a conviction would see him face a prison sentence of up to 20 years.