A worker checks on Bitcoin mining equipment at a facility in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. File photo: VCG
A criminal case in East China's Jiangsu Province in which people used stolen electricity to mine bitcoin has sparked discussion online. In a public sentencing on Tuesday, a local court sentenced 10 people to jail terms of three to 13 years in prison.
It is the largest electricity theft case in Jiangsu, and the principal criminal surnamed Lan stole electricity with a value of as much as 13.78 million yuan ($1.97 million), said a court statement.
Bitcoin, a scarce digital currency, is mined in a process that consumes massive amounts of electricity.
To lower the cost of mining bitcoin, the criminals used stolen electricity from March 2017 to May 2019.
According to the court statement, three of the criminals returned a total of 980,000 yuan of illicit gains to the local power supply company.
During the trial, Lan and others voluntarily offered nearly 4,000 bitcoin mining devices and 14 bitcoins as illegal gains to the local power supply company as compensation, admitted their guilt and accepted punishment in court without objection to the criminal facts.
Based on the judgment standards of larceny in Jiangsu, 400,000 yuan is an extremely huge amount for a single case.
Since the defendants acknowledged their guilt and were willing to return their illegal gains, the court decided to sentence the principal criminal to 13 years in prison with a fine of 300,000 yuan.