Ukrainian Power Plant Officials Accused of Illegal Cryptocurrency Mining

August 23, 2019 / by Crypto.IQ

Detectives from Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, have uncovered a cryptocurrency mining operation at a nuclear power plant in the country. The law enforcement agency alleges that the facility’s officials are the ones who had set up the unauthorized hardware.

The agency said that the internet connection, which was installed to make the mining operation easier, posed a great risk to the security of the plant. And a Ukrainian court states that confidential information about the power plant’s operation has been disclosed online.

Cheap, reliable electricity attracts cryptocurrency miners all around the world. Operations have relocated to Iceland because of its nearly unlimited geothermal energy (GTE), Canada, thanks to the abundance of hydroelectricity reserves there, and Iran, where subsidized energy made cryptocurrency mining a worthwhile pursuit, until recently.

It seems that the possible profitability of mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies using power drawn from the facility lured the officials at the nuclear power plant to commit the crime.

According to various local media reports, the SBU seized computer equipment, including Radeon RX 470 GPU video cards, a motherboard, a USB drive, and a hard drive, etc. on two investigations of the power plant site, located in the city of Yuznhoukrainsk, Mykolaiv province, Ukraine.

The alleged actions of these officials have jeopardized the security of the nuclear plant facility, a local court said. The plant’s systems were never intended to go online. But in a bid to mine cryptocurrency successfully, the people behind the scheme had no choice but to install an internet connection.

According to the court, information about the nuclear plant has leaked onto the net due to the unauthorized connection.

While this is not the first time individuals or groups of cryptocurrency miners would be stealing electricity, it might be the most dangerous to date. Two years ago, the Venezuela government accused some Bitcoin miners of similar crimes. Since electricity is subsidized in the hyperinflation-ridden country, law enforcement agencies are on the track of mining operations.

In a similar way, a Chinese cryptocurrency miner Xu Xinghu is presently serving jail time of three and half years for stealing electricity to power his BTC mining operations. He admitted to the offense in a local court last year.

Aside from the jail time, Mr. Xu also paid a hefty fine of about $15,000 for the crime. The looted power, stolen from the Chinese train network, was used to run 50 bitcoin mining rings and 3 powerful fans to dissipate heat from a rented apartment near the train lines.