The Venezuelan military has seized 315 Bitmain Antminer S9 bitcoin mining rigs it claims are not properly registered to operate in the country. Although cryptocurrency mining is legal in Venezuela, miners say they have been unfairly treated, citing illegal seizures of mining equipment and police extortion.
Venezuela Seizes Bitcoin Mining Equipment
The Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela (GNB) announced via Twitter Monday that it has seized 315 Antminer S9 bitcoin mining rigs in the southern region of the country. The GNB is one of the largest divisions of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces.
The tweet explains that the GNB decided to seize the bitcoin mining equipment because the owner did not have proper registration papers. The case has been forwarded to the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (Sunacrip), the crypto regulator appointed by the government of Nicolas Maduro responsible for registering miners.
According to local news outlet Criptonoticias, this is the first known mining equipment confiscation by Venezuelan authorities in 2020. The one before this was in September 2019 in the state of Aragua, where mining rigs were also seized due to a lack of proper registration papers.
Miners Warn of Illegal Seizures and Extortion
Officially, the Venezuelan government has legalized cryptocurrency mining, requiring miners to register and obtain crypto mining certificates. However, cryptocurrency miners in the country have repeatedly said that mining equipment has been illegally seized and miners have been extorted by the police. A number of crypto miners told Criptonoticias that “mining cryptocurrencies in Venezuela has become a risky activity,” the publication conveyed, adding that some said police officials have demanded cash bribes to overlook mining equipment they have discovered.
Veteran crypto miner Joan Telo told the news outlet that when calculating mining profitability in Venezuela, miners must include extortion payments and losses from their equipment being confiscated. Despite crypto mining being a legal activity, he added that it “is carried out clandestinely and that inherent costs of migrating the entire operation to another location should be considered, once it is detected by the authorities.”
What do you think about how Venezuela treats crypto miners? Let us know in the comments section below.
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