A former Chinese government official, Xiao Yi, has been sentenced to life in prison for helping subsidize a secret, large-scale Bitcoin mining operation within the country’s borders, alongside unrelated acts of corruption.
Yi pled guilty to the charges, and the government has already seized all of his bribes and profits.
Illegally Helping A Bitcoin Miner
On Tuesday, Yi was specifically convicted of abusing his power by providing financial and electricity subsidies to Jiumu Group Genesis Technology, a company based in Fuzhou. This firm was responsible for operating over 160,000 Bitcoin mining machines at one point and accounted for 10% of the city’s electricity consumption between 2017 and 2020.
Prosecutors contend that Xiao Yi attempted to conceal the illicit mining operation by orchestrating the creation of fabricated statistical reports and manipulating electricity consumption data.
In an attempt to mitigate the charges, Xiao Yi admitted guilt, expressed remorse, returned the stolen funds, and saw the seizure of both the bribes and his gains, as stated by the ruling magistrate of the Hangzhou People’s Court.
Meanwhile, the additional corruption allegations pertain to bribery activities spanning from from 2008 to 2021. The politician allegedly abused his multiple positions, including director of the Beijing Office of the Jiangxi Provincial People’s Government, secretary of the Fuzhou Municipal Party Committee of Jiangxi Province, and vice chairman of the Jiangxi Provincial Political Consultative Conference.
The politician “illegally received property equivalent to more than 125 million yuan ($17 million), of which more than 57.82 million yuan ($7.9 million) has not been actually obtained,” according to a translated local report on the ruling. “The circumstances are particularly serious, and the impact is particularly serious.”
China’s Crypto Crackdown
China currently enforces a blanket ban on all crypto-related activities beyond simple ownership. That includes crypto mining, exchange services, fiat-to-crypto onboarding, and transactions.
Effectively enforcing such bans is proving a challenge, however. Data from the Cambridge Bitcoin Mining Map shows that China still accounts for 21% of the global Bitcoin hash rate, making it the largest country for mining aside from the United States.
Nevertheless, China continues vying for more control of the world of digital assets. The state-owned telecom operator recently proposed a “Digital Identity System” to keep track of all local metaverse users.
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