TNB employees are part of covert operation, did not take bribes

Instead, there was confusion due to misunderstandings and reporting errors, the utility company says

by TMR / pic by BERNAMA

TENAGA Nasional Bhd (TNB) said none of its employees has taken bribes in the joint operation with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to crack down electricity theft due to bitcoin mining.

“The fact is, TNB’s covert operation with MACC requires being undercover to expose the activities of this syndicate,” TNB president and CEO Datuk Baharin Din.

“No TNB employees were detained because it was confirmed that no TNB employees received gifts from members of the syndicate,” he added in a statement issued by the utility firm yesterday.

TNB said there was confusion due to misunderstandings and reporting errors which stated that TNB employees had also received bribes from the bitcoin mining syndicate.

According to Baharin, the management of TNB is grateful for the involvement of MACC as well as TNB personnel in the operation which took more than two years.

This joint initiative has already borne fruit with the arrest of 18 individuals involved in 7,209 cases since 2018.

The covert operation has also enabled MACC to freeze 126 bank accounts worth RM4.47 million involving 97 individuals and 29 companies. Of the 18 masterminds of the syndicate arrested, one of them had 500 units of shop houses rented for illegal bitcoin mining activities.

“TNB management is also proud of the high integrity of TNB employees who inform us about various attempts by syndicate members to bribe the team to prevent electricity theft. The partnership led to joint operations with MACC.

“MACC needs time to build a strong case to detect and trap the mastermind and the head of the syndicate, not just the operator or its employees. The success of the joint operation between MACC and TNB are what was announced in the media yesterday,” Baharin added.

Launched based on public information and complaints from TNB following an increase in cases of electricity theft from bitcoin mining activities, the strategic collaboration between TNB and MACC started in 2018.

TNB’s losses since 2018 from bitcoin miners amounted to nearly RM2.3 billion from 7,209 reported cases.

MACC chief Tan Sri Azam Baki said in a press conference on Tuesday that the modus operandi of the syndicate is simple, they would try to bribe TNB technicians during their routine checks to turn a blind eye to power theft for bitcoin mining purposes.

“They would either offer a monthly cash payment or through cryptocurrency. For example, the value of a bribe is RM500 per premises. For 100 premises, it equals to RM50,000 per month.

“Investigations so far showed that the network offered between RM3,000 and RM300,000 to the technicians to keep silent about the mining ops, with a total of RM2.38 million had been given out across the 998 bitcoin mines,” he said in a statement.

“This bitcoin syndicate uses the latest bitcoin mining machines that were purchased from China brought in through Port Klang and declared as information technology equipment,” he said.

The activity of stealing electricity supply by using special tools or electrical insulation directly and also by “tapping” from the electricity supply of other consumers for the purpose of stealing or to reduce the amount of monthly electricity consumption.