Police are reportedly investigating whether two employees of Australia's official weather reporting agency used official resources to mine cryptocurrencies.
ABC News reported at least one of the Bureau of Meteorology's IT employees is now on leave, although no charges have been filed as of yet amid the ongoing investigation. Officials from the Australian Federal Police are said to have visited the bureau's headquarters in Melbourne on February 28, conducting interviews with the two employees.
The report investigation represents what could be the latest instance in which public sector employees mine cryptocurrencies – an energy-intensive process by which new transactions are added to a blockchain, creating new coins as a reward – at work. Past examples include a Federal Reserve Board staffer, an employee of New York's Department of Education and, most recently, employees of Louisiana's attorney general.
According to ABC News, both the federal police as well as the weather bureau declined to comment.
Notably, the story doesn't represent the weather bureau's first run-in with a scandal involving cryptocurrency. In February, the staff issued a public apology for cryptocurrency scam advertisements that appeared on their website.
According to ABC, the ad looked like a CNN article about bitcoin. When readers clicked on it, they found a misleading article about a fake blockchain startup headed by Elon Musk. The bureau reportedly stopped working with the third party advertising company responsible for the misleading ad.
Australian police image via Shutterstock