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April 16, 2022

Iran prison sentence for illegal crypto mining

According to a local media outlet, Iran is planning to tighten punishment for illegal crypto miners that use subsidized electricity. Offenders will face hefty fines, a 3-5 year prison sentence, and the termination of their company licenses under the new legislation.

“Any usage of subsidized electricity, intended for families, industrial, agricultural, and commercial customers, for mining cryptocurrencies is forbidden,” stated Mohammad Khodadadi Bohlouli, an official of Iran’s Power Generation, Distribution, and Transmission Company.

According to the official, crypto miners who unlawfully utilize subsidized electricity deplete the country’s power grid and harm people’s electrical equipment such as televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners, and others.

Iran has swiftly become one of the world’s largest crypto mining hotspots due to its low-cost energy. According to a survey by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, Iran accounted for 4.5 percent of crypto mining operations between January and April 2021, ranking the country among the top ten mining sites in the world.

Since 2019, cryptocurrency mining has been authorized in Iran. At the same time, the country has clearly expressed its displeasure with unlawful operations, particularly those in which operators are not authorized by the state or energy distribution firms.

In January 2021, Iran authorities seized over 45,000 crypto mining equipment that were unlawfully using subsidized electricity. Authorities also confiscated 7,000 devices tied to unlawful crypto mining operations five months later.

According to the Iranian authorities, 85 percent of crypto mining activities in Iran are unlawful. Unauthorized mining companies are believed to consume up to 3000 MW of power each day, posing a threat to the power grid.

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As a result, the harsher penalties proposed in the new development are intended to disincentivize these unscrupulous actors and promote healthy energy consumption, all while giving Iranian authorities complete control of the local mining industry.