Riccardo Spagni, also famously known as Fluffy Pony, has appeared in court this week. He was recently extradited to South Africa after three years on the run. The legendary cryptocurrency fugitive has now agreed to cooperate with authorities. He is presently facing 400 fraud, forgery, and uttering charges involving R1,453,561.47. He fled South Africa in March 2021. Fluffypony was reportedly a crypto billionaire. As Spagni faces the court, his wife, Saksia Spagni has been addressing the community on Twitter.
While employed as Cape Cookies’ information technology manager between October 2009 and June 2011, he allegedly committed fraudulent transactions. Spagni is accused of intercepting invoices from another company for information technology goods and services it supplied to Cape Cookies. In August 2019, nearly seven years after his arrest in 2012, a trial in the Cape Town Regional Court began after a protracted investigation. Spagni pleaded not guilty and did not explain his plea. Spagni and his wife entered the US on 14 April 2021, according to documents filed with the Western Cape High Court. Eric Ntabazalila, a spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority Western Cape, said Spagni handed himself over to US authorities on Tuesday.
“Spagni was arrested in the United States of America on 21 July 2021 pursuant to a provisional arrest request. Afterward, South Africa requested extradition from the USA. In an attempt to resist his extradition, Spagni filed several unsuccessful applications with the Western Cape High Court. The accused waived his rights and agreed to cooperate with the authorities on the eve of his extradition hearing in the USA scheduled for 25 May 2022,” Ntabazalila said. Among the countries with which South Africa has extradition agreements are Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
According to Dr. Omphemetse Sibanda, professor of law and executive dean of the Faculty of Management and Law at the University of Limpopo, extradition is a long process. Attempts by the Western Cape acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to return Spagni to South Africa are detailed in correspondence sent in August 2021 to the US Department of Justice Criminal Division, Office of International Affairs in Washington, DC. Spagni appeared in the Cape Town Regional Court on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Arguments centered around the validity of the warrant of arrest and whether Spagni is out on warning or on bail. Judgment is expected to be handed down on Friday.