Officials in the Malaysian state of Johor shut down two crypto operations which had stolen more than $600,000 worth of electricity over three years.
According to a Sept. 1 report from local news site The Star, Malaysia’s Energy Commission, power utility firm Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), and local officials arrested individuals responsible for the theft of more than $600,000 in electricity used for crypto mining. The authorities raided two mining operations in the city of Iskandar Puteri.
Nazlin Alim Sadikhi, a regional director with the country’s Energy Commission, said one of the crypto mining operations with 100 rigs had been operating nonstop for three years. The other setup with 48 rigs chugged along mining crypto for two years. The owners only paid $7-14 monthly for electricity, but together with the rig operators siphoned almost $20,000 worth of power monthly.
“We found that illegal wiring was installed so that electricity was supplied directly and not through the TNB meter,” Sadikhi said.
Bitcoin (BTC) mining operations illegally obtaining power are an ongoing problem in Malaysia, though crypto mining and trading are allowed in the country.
Under Section 37 of Malaysia’s Electricity Supply Act, those who steal electricity in some place other than a “domestic installation” for more than one offence face a maximum penalty of $1.2 million or ten years’ imprisonment. However, The Star reported the individuals responsible for the recent theft may face ten years in jail or a maximum fine of $240,000 if found guilty.
TNB engineer Mohd Satari Mohamad said authorities had raided 90 similar installations in 2020, totaling 288 since 2018. Cointelegraph reported last year that TNB had lost more than $25 million in electrical costs as of June 2019, with one August raid taking down 33 operations that had stolen $760,000 worth of electricity.