Police are investigating cryptocurrency transactions made by alleged murderer Yorgen Fenech, including their links to a notorious ‘darkweb’ marketplace.
In total, five bitcoin wallets that Fenech is believed to have used to make online transactions are being reviewed by investigators from the police CounterTerrorism Unit.
A bitcoin wallet serves the same purpose as a regular wallet, but rather than storing actual currency, it contains information used to make online transactions using cryptocurrency.
In particular, the police investigation is also looking into purchases and attempted purchases that have been traced between Fenech and traders on a now-defunct site which is known as Wall Street Market.
The once-bustling bazaar of illegal drugs, arms and other black-market products was shuttered in May 2019 on the back of a years-long investigation by a number of international law enforcement agencies.
Codenamed ‘Operation DisrupTor’, the operation targeted the site which used to operate on what is known as the darkweb – encrypted online content that is not indexed by conventional search engines.
Sources said Fenech has been linked to attempted purchases from the site up to just a few days before it was taken offline.
Some 180 people have been arrested in seven countries following offshoot investigations launched into alleged crimes committed on the site, from cocaine smuggling to selling untraceable guns and even human trafficking.
Attempted cyanide purchase
The local investigation has zeroed in on one suspicious $50,000 transaction made from one of Fenech’s wallets in January 2019 to a seller active on the darkweb site.
A high-level law enforcement source said it has not yet been established what Fenech may have been attempting to purchase from the site for this amount of money.
Another smaller transaction of $2,098 in April 2019 has been linked to the attempted purchase of 1g of lethal poison Potassium Cyanide.
In messages between users of the site, the package of the deadly poison was set to be mailed to Fenech’s Portomaso Tower address.
Times of Malta reported in September 2020 that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had flagged online searches by Fenech for poison, only a few months before he was arrested for complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Then, later that month, George Cremona, who heads the police’s CTU, told a court how another attempted purchase, this time for a handgun, ammunition and a silencer, had been linked to Fenech’s St Julian’s address and named his deceased father as the buyer.
One of the bitcoin traders Fenech was linked with has been flagged for fraud several times, sources said.
Meanwhile, the international investigation that took down Wall Street Market is sifting through a mountain of data after the site’s, and its partners’, servers were seized in Germany.
Times of Malta is informed that local law enforcement officers have drafted a request for information from their German counterparts that is being facilitated by EU agency Europol.
They have also carried out a number of interrogations as part of ongoing investigations at the Financial Crime investigation Department offices in State Venera.
In posts on Twitter and Facebook, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi linked purchases from the dark web to packets of cocaine he and another three MPs had received anonymously in 2019.
Someone, he wrote, had wanted to frame them and destroy them politically because they were being the most vocal in their criticism of Fenech and 17 Black.
Azzopardi had then reported the matter to the police and insisted on a magisterial inquiry.
Later, identical cocaine packs were also received by Karol Aquilina, Simon Busuttil and David Casa.
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