FluffyPony’s “Unwarranted” Detention Concerns Monero Community
Last month’s arrest of Monero developer and former maintainer Riccardo Spagni, aka FluffyPony, has left many in the XMR community on edge and speculating if there are hidden motives behind it.
Spagni was arrested in the U.S. on July 21 at the behest of the South African government after trying to board a chartered flight to the nation, his home country. News of the arrest, however, did not break until Aug 2, when court documents were filed by a Tennessee district court. The news was confirmed when Spagni’s wife Saskia tweeted a response on his behalf.
On the same date, Spagni was stripped of his access to Monero-related repositories out of fears he “could be pressured while in custody.” This also took away his ability to access a developer fund equal to some 5,577 XMR.
More recently, Spagni was denied bail late last week after a judge deemed his massive cryptocurrency holdings rendered him a flight risk.
“I’m worried about him being a Monero core team member who could be held indefinitely,” said a Bitcointalk forum member in a popular thread dedicated to the coin.
“I know it’s mostly fun and games from our end in the forum trading these coins but XMR is a serious project. Try listening to the stuff binaryFate (sp) talks about. It’s like he’s into some serious deep sh*t.” – tokeweed, Bitcointalk forum member.
The advanced privacy features of XMR, which render the details of its transfer nearly untraceable, make it a favorite among darknet market users and cybercriminals. This has led some to believe that Spagni’s unique relationship with Monero could potentially prove to be valuable in the U.S. federal government’s efforts to curb crime related to its usage.
In a letter re-tweeted by the dev on the date of his arrest, Spagni’s attorneys describe his arrest as “irregular and unwarranted,” going on to describe how their client was the victim of an administrative error which led to the erroneous issuing of an arrest warrant.
“In the circumstances… our client was arrested for his alleged failure to appear in court, and nothing more,” the letter states. “This issue is currently being addressed with the authorities and what is sought is agreement between all parties as to further court dates for the hearing of the matter.”
Further adding to the confusion are the lawyer’s notes that the case is nowhere near “trial ready,” which makes the expeditious apprehension of Spagni even more of a mystery.
At the crux of the matter are allegations that Spagni generated approx. $100,000 in fake invoices while employed by Cape Cookies, a South African food production company, in 2011. According to court documents, South African prosecutors allege Spagni intercepted invoices from a company that delivered goods and services to his employer, using them to craft fictitious invoices, and replacing the pay-to information with his own.
The South African government has 60 days to submit documents required for an extradition hearing – a period which is set to expire on Sept 19.