Two brothers (whose names were not disclosed) from the Netherlands were arrested for stealing power from a local utility provider in Rotterdam. According to the Dutch authorities, the 39 and 42-year-old men were using the stolen power to fuel their small bitcoin mining operation.
The duo was also charged with money laundering. Also, at the younger brother’s place, who owned the property, police found cannabis plants. The 39-year-old allegedly used stolen power for growing the plants. Prosecutors say he had harvested marijuana at least two times.
Law enforcement authorities claim the brothers made about €200,000 ($223,000) during their two-year operation. Since they are charged with money laundering, prosecutors demand a fine as high as €250,000.
The younger brother faces 15 months in prison, while the older one could be sentenced to 5 months of jail.
Two BTC miners were seized where the bitcoin mining operation’s place. According to the authorities, the two machines are worth about €15,000.
Prosecutors say electricity stealing has not been a problem in the Netherlands – and in Europe – before. According to them, the brothers were stealing power since the mining equipment they used was outdated.
BTC miners become less and less profitable during the time and when they get outdated, the expense will overcome the income making the whole operation unprofitable. Prosecutors state that in the Netherlands, power is rather expensive, and the two brothers’ bitcoin mining business wouldn’t bring any profits for them if they did not steal the electricity.
This is the first case in Europe where bitcoin miners were stealing power for their operation. However, there have been many instances where the cryptocurrency was involved in money laundering. The problem is so important that Europol, Interpol and the Basel Institute (an independent organization fighting against corruption and other financial crimes) had established a partnership agreeing to crack down BTC-related financial offenses.