Malaysia: Bitcoin Miners Raided Over Stolen Electricity

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Malaysian’s electricity company recently stormed the location of some bitcoin miners suspected to be using electricity illegally.

According to a report by the Malay Mail, the electricity utility company suffered a loss of over $760,000 due to the activities of the bitcoin miners.

The case of electricity theft by bitcoin miners is not a new development, and authorities have sought to clamp down on the illegal use of energy by miners.

While some bitcoin critics argue that bitcoin mining activities are dangerous to the environment and people, some jurisdictions have fair policies that encourage the high-electricity consuming process.

Authorities Raid Illegal Bitcoin Miners

Following investigations by authorities, it was discovered that about 33 bitcoin mining areas in Kuantan, the capital city of Pahang, were tapping electricity illegally from one of Malaysian’s major electricity distribution companies, Tenaga Nacional Berhad (TNB). The miners dodged meters to get direct electricity from the company.

Speaking on the mode of electricity theft and the deception employed by the bitcoin miners, Siti Sarah Johana Mohd Said, the General manager metering and distributing network at TNB, said:

“The metered 3 Amp was used only for one lamp and a suction fan. They paid a bill of only RM219 whereas they should have been billed RM108,000 a month for the unmetered 1,500 Amp.”

Mohd Said added that investigations revealed that bitcoin mining activities have been ongoing in Kuantan since February 2019.

An initial raid discovered that one of the bitcoin mining premises, who meter displayed just 3 Amp, used 1,500 Amp instead. Later, members and personnel of the TNB Security Service Department stormed the Kuantan premises in the morning hours.

Out of the 33 premises raided, 23 of them had clear signs of active bitcoin mining operations, while the remaining 10 cleaned out evidence of mining activities upon knowledge of the company’s raid.

The TNB General Manager, however, told locals to be alert to bitcoin mining premises illegally tapping electricity and also urged locals to report suspicious activities to the electricity company.

An employee of a school in China was caught stealing the institution’s electricity to mine ethereum. Also, authorities arrested Matthew McDermott, an employee at Florida’s Department of Citrus, for using the company’s computers to mine bitcoin.

Bitcoin Mining Across Different Countries

While some jurisdictions openly welcome bitcoin mining by creating favorable regulations, some others are wary, because of the high-energy consumption associated with bitcoin mining. Some governments and critics argue that the process is hazardous to the environment.

In September 2018, activities of Canada’s biggest mining company, Hut 8, caused heatwaves for locals in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where its mining farm is located. Despite the company’s positive contribution to the city, massive electricity consumption by the company caused authorities to make laws that would cut the power supply.

Norway, a once-friendly jurisdiction for bitcoin miners, announced that BTC miners would no longer enjoy power subsidy, as the miners would start paying normal electricity tax starting from 2019.

Iranian authorities introduced an electricity tariff plan for bitcoin and cryptocurrency miners in the country. This move comes after the government initially demanded that bitcoin miners pay the full electricity bill.

In China, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released a draft list of companies and activities to be stopped in the Asian country, with cryptocurrency mining making the list.

However, Japan, known for its friendly stance towards bitcoin and cryptocurrency, is also a haven for bitcoin miners, due to its cheap electricity.

Against the misconceptions that bitcoin mining is harmful to the environment, a study in late 2018 by CoinShares revealed that the activity is mostly powered by renewable energy sources.

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