Australian Federal Police Officer Denies Stealing Bitcoin During an Investigation

Sujha Sundararajan
Last updated: | 1 min read
Source: Patty Jansen / Pixabay

An Australian cybercrime police officer has been accused of stealing 81.616 Bitcoin during a steroid trafficking investigation in Melbourne.

Per court documents, the policeman – William Wheatley – allegedly pocketed a Trezor hardware wallet containing the Bitcoins, then worth about $450,000. Wheatley also faces two more charges of dealing with property suspected to be the proceeds of crime, and using information to dishonestly benefit him.

The suspected cop was first charged in December 2022 by the former Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. According to a local report, Wheatley assisted a raid in 2019, which was a part of Operation Viridian.

Australian Cyber Crime Squad Detective Sergeant Deon Achtypis noted that the raid uncovered large quantities of “steroid-type” substances. Along with that, the detectives also found a Trezor crypto wallet, he added.

After three weeks, the investigators received permission from a magistrate to access the wallet. On February 14, the team discovered  the wallet to be empty on January 29.

Further, the cybercrime unit tracked the currency and found an IP address associated with the then-Australian Federal Police headquarters.

“I could not conceive of any valid business reason why an IP address associated with the Australian Federal Police would appear,” Achtypis noted. “I formed the opinion that a police member may have been involved in the movement of the cryptocurrency.”

The law commission launched an investigation on five cybercrime officers suspected to be involved on the wallet draining. Investigators then traced Wheatley with evidences of withdrawals made to his bank account between 2019 and September 2022.

Australian Federal Policeman Wheatley Denies Allegations

The officer on Friday, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, denying all the accusations against him.  He pled not guilty for stealing cryptocurrencies from Trezor wallet during the ring investigation.

He said that he did not misuse information obtained in his role as an investigation officer to benefit himself. Furthermore, his lawyer Luke Barker, told the court that the case is “circumstantial” against his client.

The County Court has scheduled next hearing on the case in March, the report added.