The chief engineer of a Russian Metro system has handed in his resignation after being caught using the subway’s electricity grid substation to mine for bitcoin, consuming thousands of dollars of energy at the company’s expense.
That’s according to MUP Metroelectrotrans, the company that powers the Kazan Metro. Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, a city around 800km (500 miles) east of Moscow.
The resignation comes after a report on Thursday from the Tatarstan Investigative Committee, which revealed that it had opened a criminal case against two employees of the Metro for abuse of official powers. They are suspected of unauthorized installation of cryptocurrency mining equipment at a power substation, consuming electricity worth 352,000 rubles ($4,700).
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They have both admitted to the crime, it was reported.
Cryptocurrency mining uses electricity and high-powered computers to solve computational math problems. The solutions are so complex that they are impossible to be solved by hand and would even be difficult for regular computers to successfully complete.
Once a problem is solved, the computer owner is rewarded with a cryptocurrency coin, such as bitcoin. The two Kazan Metro employees were found to be stealing electricity for their high-powered devices, and they, therefore, could have potentially made a lot of money.
While bitcoin is not legal tender in Russia, a bill signed by President Vladimir Putin last summer allowed for cryptocurrency assets to be counted on a par with physical assets, enabling Russian citizens to legally own virtual money from the start of 2021. Before then, currencies such as bitcoin were in a legal ‘grey zone,’ having been neither legalized nor prohibited.
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