Accused fraudster and cryptocurrency developer, Riccardo “Fluffypony” Spagni, is expected back in court next month despite a number of delays brought on by the ex-fugitive’s various applications through his legal team.
Spagni’s trial has been dragging on since August 2019, with charges that he defrauded Cape Cookies of more than R1.5 million.
As a former IT manager of the baked-goods supplier between October 2009 and June 2011, Spagni is alleged to have intercepted invoices from another company relating to information technology goods and services, and supplying it to Cape Cookies.
Arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, Spagni was unsuccessful at having his extradition back to South Africa declared unlawful.
He is now expected to appear in the Cape Town Regional Court on October 11 for a criminal trial in which he faces 378 fraud and forgery-related charges.
The co-founder of Monero had last year voluntarily surrendered himself in the US and was subsequently transferred to South Africa, arriving in the country at OR Tambo International Airport on July 11 last year.
Currently living in Plettenberg Bay, Spagni has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him and was released on warning with strict conditions, confirmed National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.
“Spagni was released from custody on July 15 under strict conditions, and is not incarcerated in this matter or in other matter, according to the investigating officer of the SAPS,” said Ntabazalila. In one of his various attempts to delay the trial, Spagni had sought, from the Western Cape High Court, the disclosure of certain sections of the police docket.
“Those parts refer to the police investigation diary and correspondence, which are not ordinarily provided to accused persons in preparation for their criminal trial.
That application was also dismissed,” said Ntabazalila.
Spagni had also absconded when he left the country with his wife, to Bermuda, just three days before his matter was to resume in Cape Town, having not communicated any details with his lawyer.
He had, at that stage, last appeared in the regional court during November 2019.
When he could not be traced, a warrant for his arrest was issued to Interpol, whereafter he was arrested in Tennessee on July 21, 2021.
Senior state advocate, Tillette Berry, motivated in an affidavit that Spagni was a “vexatious litigant” in that he suggested “malice” on the part of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Berry said the suggestions were “without merit and objectionable”.
And while Spagni is expected in the regional court on October 11, he has also since applied to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal against a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) order that found that his extradition appeal was moot.
The SCA found there was “no live controversy between the parties and that the determination of the issues would have no practical effect as Spagni was already back in South Africa for the continuation of his trial”.
Spagni argued that his extradition back to South Africa was invalid and unlawful.
Enquiries to Cape Cookies and Spagni’s legal team were not answered by deadline on Tuesday.