Malaysia raids crypto miners for electricity theft

According to local news reports, the two crypto operations managed to siphon away more than $600,000 in electricity in the past three years 

Image of server racks for mining crypto
Local authorities have steadily worked towards uncovering crypto mining premises that are stealing electricity around the Johor state since 2018

Local authorities in the Malaysian state of Johor have shut down two crypto operations that have managed to steal more than $600,000 in electricity over the past three years.

According to a report released on this morning by The Star, a local news outlet, the raid was a joint operation led by the Energy Commission (ST) with the Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), the Inland Revenue Board and the Iskandar Puteri City Council. They arrested the individuals responsible for the theft of more than $600,000 in electricity.

A regional director with the country’s Energy Commission, Nazlin Alim Sadikhi, revealed that one of the crypto mining operations was outfitted with 100 rigs and had been operating around the clock for three consecutive years. The other setup had 48 rigs and was mining crypto for two years straight.

While the owners owed the country’s energy commission nearly $20,000 worth of power on a monthly basis, they only paid $7 to $14 per month.

Sadikhi explained that their operations were made possible because illegal wiring was installed. This allowed the operators to tap the power supply directly, without having to go through the meter provided by the TNB.

Crypto mining operations illegally obtaining electricity, particularly for Bitcoin, are an ongoing problem in the country, even though Malaysia welcomes crypto mining and trading.

As part of their dedication to helping the emerging industry grow, the country’s watchdog has plans to develop a regulatory framework for wallet providers that will be integrated into its existing legislation for cryptocurrencies.

According to Section 37 of Malaysia’s Electricity Supply Act, individuals who steal electricity in some place other than a “domestic installation” for more than one offense will face a maximum penalty of $1.2 million or 10 years of imprisonment.

The Star wrote that the individuals behind the theft may face either 10 years in jail or a maximum fine of $240,000 if they are guilty as charged.

Engr. Mohd Satari Mohamad from TNB revealed that throughout the year, local authorities have managed to raid 90 similar installations, bringing the total number to 288 since the year 2018.

Data from June 2019 indicates that the TNB had lost more than $25 million in electrical costs, and one particularly productive raid that occurred in August of that year took down 33 operations that stole $760,000 in electricity.

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