Authorities in Kosovo raided several locations on Saturday, seizing hundreds of cryptocurrency mining machines, and arresting an individual suspected of running an illegal mining operation.
The culprit was linked to recent power shortages and the energy crisis suffered by the country.
Because of the power issues, the Albanian majority government decided to impose a ban on cryptocurrency mining last Tuesday, hoping to alleviate energy consumption. However, police were tipped that some operations were still up and running.
In the police raid, some 272 devices were seized. The confiscated equipment can use up as much as the electricity needed to power 500 homes a month, or anything between the electricity equivalent of $68,000 to $136,000.
The government has taken a hard stance on offenders. Ethnic Serbians in Kosovo have not been paying electricity since 1998-1999. This has allowed some more entrepreneurial individuals to scale up energy use at no significant cost.
However, finance minister Herukan Murati said that the “enrichment of some at the expense of taxpayers” could not continue. Kosovo has faced various energy issues, particularly after one of the two main power plants in the country stopped working in December.
Ethnic Albanians have also been targeted in various operations. Last week, authorities carried out a raid that led to 70 crypto mining machines being seized.
The government has labelled the need to crack down on illegal mining operations as an “emergency measure”, citing the increasing uncertainty over electricity in the country.
Meanwhile, policymakers are also pushing ahead with a crypto bill that has not yet seen a version ready to be voted on.
Energy use in the context of cryptocurrencies has been a sensitive topic. Kazakhstan, a country that is now seized by unrest, has decided to tax energy allocated to Bitcoin mining.
Mozilla was recently blasted by its former co-founder over the decision to continue accepting crypto donations and prompting the public to participate.
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