Between April and June 2018, An Bang, a senior engineer working on Baidu’s popular search engine, downloaded Monero mining scripts to some 200 Baidu servers, China-focused news site Abacus reported on Monday,
The servers mined Monero, a cryptocurrency that can be converted to Bitcoin (BTC), and sold them for around 100,000 Chinese Yuan (c.$14,300).
However, the extra load on the systems was spotted by the firm, which made a report to police, resulting in the arrest of the staffer. An was finally handed down three years in prison and a fine of 11,000 yuan (c.$1,568) in last month’s sentencing, the report says.
The case is the latest in a sequence of instances where employees have succumbed to the ease of access to workplace power or infrastructure to attempt to make some free cryptography, only to fall foul of the law.
In Russia, scientists recently were given time in a penal colony at a top secret nuclear laboratory or fines for the same crime. Within its court system, Ukraine also had staff and trains caught red-handed mining their illicit profits at work.
Trades are Banned in China, Not Mining
In a related context, Chinese authorities have removed Bitcoin mining from their list of undesirable industries and have essentially scrapped a previously mooted plan to ban the activities.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading have been banned in the country, however, with authorities vowing to crack down on the activity. China is thought to be one of the nations closest to launching its own digital currency central bank (CBDC), although coronavirus outbreaks are likely to delay these plans.
Separately, A senior adviser to the Silk Road dark web marketplace operator has pled guilty in a federal court in Manhattan to one count of conspiracy to distribute massive quantities of narcotics, a charge arising out of his role as the senior adviser to the owner and operator of the “Silk Road” online illicit black market.