Malaysia Loses $25 Million due to Electricity Theft from Bitcoin Miners

Malaysia’s power utility company is now targeting Bitcoin miners who have been stealing electricity to power their mining activity.

Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the Malaysian electricity company, has begun making specific moves to increase security measures, aimed at reducing the chance of power theft perpetrated by Bitcoin miners. The company, as at June, has reportedly lost RM 106 million ($25.3 million) to heavy Bitcoin mining activity.

Legal Action

Siti Sarah Johana Mohd, the TNB’s General Manager, has said that the company will now begin to prosecute offenders who are stealing power. There will also be some action extended to the owners of buildings where said Bitcoin mining takes place, even if they are unaware and it is being perpetrated by tenants. To guard against this, the company has advised all building owners to discontinue the use of their own names on official TNB documents and use the tenant’s names. Johana Mohd noted:

“A letter of demand will be issued to the owner of the premises account after we disconnect the electricity supply.”

This could mean that the company might decide to pursue the maximum punishment under Section 37 of the Malaysian Electricity Supply Act, which stipulates a payment of RM100,000 ($24,000) or a jail term lasting three years. Regardless, the TNB is not allowed to disconnect a building’s power supply for more than three months. The law, however, allows the company to file for payments owed to it for up to 5 years.

Malaysia and Bitcoin

The Malaysian government is not averse to Bitcoin and does not restrict its mining or trading at all. However, the country’s central bank – Bank Negara Malaysia – previously released a statement stating that the asset is not officially recognized by the government as legal tender. It further added that since the Central Bank does not regulate mining or trading, “the public is therefore advised to be cautious of the risks associated with the usage of such digital currency.”

About a week ago, the TNB conducted a raid of up to 33 different mining grounds after detecting that they had been stealing electricity. At the time, Johana Mohd said the premises had been conducting these activities for about six months.

“TNB collected evidence that 23 premises were running Bitcoin mining activities while the other 10 premises were aware of our raid this time around and destroyed the evidence,” said Mohd.

Bitcoin is Still Falling

Bitcoin mining is still being executed, while we can observe the downward trajectory that BTC has been experiencing so far. Recently, Bitcoin successfully hit $12,000 and even surpassed it a bit, giving some credence to analysts who opined recently that Bitcoin will rise as the Sino-U.S. trade war continued to deteriorate. However, that only happened for a short while before the price tumbled again.

In the last hour or two, Coin360 showed a small BTC rally, which saw a 5% increase in price, pushing prices up higher than $10,000. This brought its day-old loss to about 3%. However, it dropped back to $10,000 and has currently dropped a bit further.

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