Russian nuclear engineers have been arrested for trying to mine cryptocurrencies in a top-secret nuclear facility in Sarov, Western Russia, reports BBC. At the same time, the state-controlled bank Sberbank informs that it frequently catches employees trying to mine cryptocurrencies on the office equipment, according to Bitcoin.com.
The scientists at the nuclear facility had tried to connect to the internet a supercomputer that is supposed to stay offline for security reasons, and mine coins on it. “There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining”, the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov said in a press release. The offenders have been arrested and handed over to the Federal Security Service (FSB). According to media reports, a criminal case has been launched against them.
Sarov is not even on the official maps and is a top-secret facility, guarded by no-man’s land and barbed wire. This is the place where the USSR produced its first atomic bomb in the 1950’s. Reportedly in it work around 20 000 people. The supercomputer in question has a computing capacity of 1 petaflop, the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second.
While the FSB was dealing with the nuclear engineers, officials of Sberbank had to once again deny the speculations the institution is mining cryptocurrencies. The rumors spread after the bank bought off almost all computer graphic cards on the Russian market last autumn. Last week the Chairman of the bank’s Board, Herman Gref, told again the “Leaders of Russia” forum that Sberbank is not mining cryptocurrencies on a corporate level. He said the bank bought graphic cards of a slightly different configuration that are used for the bank’s own “laboratory for the development of artificial intelligence”/ He, however, admitted that “we often catch employees who are engaged in mining on the bank’s equipment”.
It seems that mining cryptos on corporate and government equipment is a popular undertaking in Russia. Last autumn officials of the Crimea Council of Ministers were fired for doing exactly this.