An intelligence-led anti-smuggling operation by the Hong Kong customs last Friday, April 2, has led to the interception of illegal crypto miners.
The officials seized 300 cryptocurrency mining Graphic Process Units (GPUs) were seized as the illegal miners narrowly escaped arrest. Hong Kong authorities revealed that the incident took place on Friday near the Hong Kong International Airport.
Seizing Bitcoin Miners on a Fishing Vessel
The coordinated attack was launched by the customs officers after noticing suspicious activities by some men moving cartons from a fishing vessel onto a speedboat.
Upon sighting the officers approaching, the men took to their heels fleeing to mainland China. However, they left the contraband goods at the scene.
The GPU miners left in the fishing vessel are reportedly worth about 30 million HKD (about $3.8 million).
A breakdown of the items found in the fishing vessel includes 300 Nividia CMP 30HX graphics cards; a new line of GPUs designed for cryptocurrency mining; bottles of expensive alcohol and cosmetic products. The owner of the fishing vessel had been arrested at the time of filing the report. Based on Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance, anyone found guilty of illegal smuggling action will be subjected to a whopping fine of $2 million-plus a 7-year jail term.
Blanket Crypto Ban in Hong Kong
At press time, crypto-related activities are banned in Hong Kong. These include crypto mining Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), among others. This is also applicable to other cities in China.
However, the Hong Kong Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) passed in 2012 prescribes outright penalties for anyone found guilty of unfair trading activities in Hong Kong.
In this regard, Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury James Lau, revealed that crypto mining hardware and other crypto-related purchases are exclusively under TDO, and remain banned. He further explained that anyone found engaging in illegal mining activity will be subjected to a $500,000 fine or five years in prison.
While many Chinese investors have switched to crypto exchanges like BitMEX, Binance, Coinbase, among others in trading cryptocurrency, Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau 2020 retain the ban on cryptocurrency even on retail individuals.