Power theft due to Bitcoin costs RM2.3 bil losses

The government viewed electricity theft through illegal bitcoin mining activities seriously as it recorded a 400 per cent increase over the past four years, with an estimated loss of more than RM2.3 billion, said Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan.

He said a total of 7,209 cases were detected, namely 610 cases in 2018, 1,043 in 2019, 2,465 in 2020 and 3,091 in 2021.

“The increase in cases is a worrying trend, as it affects not only the energy industry in terms of value, but also the stability of the electricity supply system and public safety,” he said in a statement today.

He said the extreme use of high-powered cryptocurrency mining machines 24 hours non-stop could cause short circuits due to the use of non-standard fuses and loads exceeding cable capacity, risking causing fires.

Illegal connection or tampering with meter installations resulted in the reading on the meter no longer showing the actual electricity consumption, thus disrupting the stability of electricity supply as demand exceeded capacity, thus affecting business activities and people’s comfort.

He said any individual found involved in power theft by tampering with the installations of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) could be fined not more than RM1,000,000 or imprisonment not more than 10 years, or both, under the Electricity Supply Act 1990.

In addition, individuals who commit such offences can also be prosecuted under Section 379 and Section 427 of the Penal Code for theft and mischief, respectively.

“Both the owner of the premises and the individual carrying out the activity can be prosecuted under the provisions of the existing law,” he said.

The ministry welcomes the cooperation of various agencies, especially the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Energy Commission (ST), TNB and local authorities in combating these illegal activities.

He also urged members of the public who suspected or had information on power theft to contact ST, TNB or PDRM so that appropriate action could be taken. –BERNAMA/ pic by BLOOMBERG