Bitmain's chief financial officer and supposed legal representative, Luyao Liu, was arrested after allegedly partaking in a mob attack on the company’s ousted co-founder Micree Zhan in Beijing, local reports suggest.

Liu was “taken away by the police” after Zhan was robbed of a business license for Bitmain Beijing, the mining giant’s main subsidiary, Chinese cryptocurrency news outlet Deepchain reported on Friday. 

The ex-senior executive has been engaged in a power struggle with Jihan Wu, also a Bitmain co-founder, who ousted him from the company in October 2019.

According to Primitive Ventures’ founding partner and prominent industry commentator Dovey Wan, Zhan was hassled by a group of masked men at the Beijing Municipal Administration of Industry and Commerce, where he had just reportedly received a business license for Bitmain Beijing, thereby becoming the company’s legal representative. 

“In the morning, Micree was at the Industry and Commerce Bureau of Beijing office, to get his Beijing Bitmain corp license, which he is the legal representative of LIU and ten others literally ‘robbed’ it right on the spot,” Wan tweeted earlier today. 

She also attached a video clip showing a run-in between two groups of men wearing black sweatsuits and face masks. Liu was arrested approximately two hours after the altercation, Wan wrote, adding that “this Bitmain shitshow is now trending #21 at national level on Chinese Weibo.” 

Bitmain insists that Luyao Liu remains legal representative 

Bitmain has since made an announcement on its official WeChat account claiming that Zhan’s labor contract was terminated on Oct. 28 of last year, and therefore the ex-chairman has not held any position at the company since.  

Liu Luyao is the current legal representative of Beijing Bitmain, the statement stipulated, although the public registration documents apparently show Zhan is currently the legal representative of Bitmain Beijing. The company called that “a registration error,” which “seriously violates” the corporate law.

According to Bitmain’s registration documents, Liu was appointed as the legal representative earlier this year by Wu, who abandoned his post as CEO in 2018 to take on a non-executive role on the company’s board. Chinese industry news outlet 8btc describes Liu as “a high-school and college classmate of Jihan Wu.”

That appointment was recently overruled by the Beijing Haidian District Bureau of Justice after Zhan appealed the decision in February, which apparently allowed him to apply to register as Bitmain’s legal representative. 

According to the laws of China, the legal representative “is someone who is appointed to act on the company’s behalf.”

Bitmain power struggle

The power struggle between two of Bitmain’s co-founders, Zhan and Wu, intensified in October 2019, when the ex-CEO suddenly ousted Zhan, who was the firm’s legal representative and chairman at the time, from the corporation. Additionally, Wu forbade the company staff to interact with Zhan and briefly took over the company as a legal representative (he later handed the post over to Liu).

At the time, Zhan said that he did not leave the firm and was removed as a Bitmain legal representative without his consent. He has since filed several lawsuits against two of Bitmain’s subsidiaries, seeking official permission to receive a business license and restore his position at the mining hardware company.

Cointelegraph has reached out to Bitmain for further comment but has yet to hear back from the company. This story will be updated, should we receive a response.