Authorities in Kazakhstan have apprehended 23 people accused of coercing an IT professional into running an illegal cryptocurrency mining operation.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kazakhstan’s national security service raided a cryptocurrency mining operation in the Talgar district of the Almaty region during a search for illegal mining farms, according to a report from the Ministry of the Interior. Authorities confiscated roughly 6,000 items of crypto mining equipment, worth about $7 million, which had been generating $300,000-$500,000 in profits per month for the operation.
Initially, seven people thought to be members of a gang were discovered, in addition to a 36-year-old IT professional who is believed to have been forced to operate the mining farm, the report said. A further search revealed another three suspected gang members, all of whom were subsequently arrested, in addition to an AK-47 assault rifle, ammunition, and pistols. The group consisted of former convicts and “criminally oriented persons.” Some even had a history of violent crimes, that included debt collection and extortion, according to the report.
Crypto in Kazakhstan
Since becoming one of the more popular places in the world to mine cryptocurrencies due to its low energy prices, Kazakhstan was forced to introduce restrictions as the country’s grid struggled with an energy crisis earlier this year. Consequently, authorities have been trying to root out illegal crypto mining operations.
Kazakhstan also introduced a new tax regime for cryptocurrency miners, in order to better take advantage of the profits being generated there. “At the moment we are also considering linking the tax rate for miners to the value of the cryptocurrency,” said Minister of National Economy, Alibek Kuantyrov.
Over the course of the first quarter of 2022, the government was also able to generate $1.5 million in fees from crypto companies engaging in mining. “The fee is charged for the actual amount of electrical energy consumed in the implementation of activities,” according to a government report