33 Illegal Bitcoin Mining Operations in Malaysia

Authorities in Malaysia have shut down 33 Bitcoin mining operations which were stealing electricity. The stolen power cost some 3.2 million Malaysian ringgit ($760,736.)

Major Malaysian electric utility company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) recently alerted authorities to power being stolen from its generators. The massive amounts stolen were apparently used to power 33 unaccounted for Bitcoin mining operations.

In total, 33 premises were raided near the capital of Pahang, Kuantan. Apparently, the mining operations were functioning for 6 months until discovered, and 23 were still running when stopped by authorities. The rest attempted to destroy the evidence before the police arrived.

The illicit practice was able to continue with the mining operations misreporting numbers. According to TNB general manager Siti Sarah Johana Mohd, “The metered 3 Amp was used only for one lamp and a suction fan. They paid a bill of only 219 Malaysian ringgit ($52) whereas they should have been billed 108,000 Malaysian ringgit ($25,674) a month for the unmetered 1,500 Amp.” Essentially, the miners were tapping into high-powered computer networks using electricity directly from the distribution board, thus bypassing the electrical meter.

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Given that the mining operation was allowed to continue for 6 months, it is possible that many other such illicit mining operations are still functioning in Malaysia. A similar situation unfolded recently in Iran where Bitcoin miners set up operations in abandoned warehouses and leeching off state-owned electricity.

As of now, the damages to TNB total over $760,000. Despite these illegal mining activities, the Malaysian government will likely not clamp down country-wide on the practice. The Malaysian government is well-known for being largely crypto-friendly, expressing hope in digital currencies and blockchain-based companies. All cryptocurrencies are classified as securities in the country.

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