Senate of Paraguay approves 10 years in prison for mining Bitcoin without permits

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Amid uncertainty over the thousands of Bitcoin miners seized in Paraguay, the Senate of that country approved that illegal operators who steal electricity be punished with up to 10 years in prison. Also, it authorizes the seizure and confiscation of ASIC equipment. In the plenary session on June 12, the Upper House of the Congress of Paraguay approved a project to make modifications to article 173 of the Paraguayan Penal Code. The initiative was presented by the country's government and by Senator Ever VIllalba last month. According to what was reported by the Senate, the proposal was approved with 29 votes in favor and 7 abstentions. None of the senators voted against. According to what is established in the project, the modification of article 173 of the Penal Code is to increase the prison sentence for the crime of theft of electrical energy for commercial or industrial purposes, as well as establishing the confiscation of the equipment used and its subsequent delivery to the National Electricity Administration (ANDE). Now that the project has obtained half a sanction in the Upper House of Paraguay, it will be sent to the Chamber of Deputies of the Guaraní nation. If it also receives approval there, it will be transmitted to the office of President Santiago Peña, who may enact or veto the bill.

It should be noted that the bill, although it seeks to severely punish illegal Bitcoin miners, in no way seeks to attack the legitimate digital mining industry, or at least that is what Senator Ever Villalba, promoter of the proposal, argues. During the debate, VIllalba indicated that the activity of cryptomining should not be “criminalized.” On the contrary, what The aim is to control “irregular use of energy”.

“Those people who connect to the ANDE network and with that irregular connection earn millions of dollars,” said the senator, who insisted that the modification to the Paraguayan Penal Code seeks to stop energy thieves from pay a prison sentence of up to ten years.

Various projects for Bitcoin mining

As BitcoinDynamic reported, the project to punish energy theft and authorize the seizure of miners was presented on May 13 before the Congress of Paraguay by the national Executive. At that time, presidential spokesperson Paula Carro said that the intention is to “protect ANDE from a real threat,” which is energy theft. The project presented by Villalba is not the only one related to Bitcoin mining that is currently in the Vongreso. So far, there are four legislative proposals, including one that proposes the prohibition of this activity on Paraguayan soil.

Of course, Villalba's is the project that has advanced the most in its parliamentary process, remembering that it is only waiting for the –plausible– approval in the Lower House for its subsequent promulgation as law of that country. The progress of the proposal to punish illegal Bitcoin miners in Paraguay with 10 years in prison, It occurs in the midst of the government's crusade against this scourge. As part of that move, more than 9,300 Bitcoin miners have been seized so far this year. More than 70 raids have also been carried out on illegal mining farms since 2019. Although there are enough miners seized to install a mining farm of significant proportions, it is not clear what the whereabouts of the ASICs that operated illegally are. clandestine Neither the ANDE, nor the Public Ministry, nor the Supreme Court of Justice, and not even the Seized Assets Service of Paraguay; They notify the destination of the confiscated ASICs. There is a presumption among local reporters that there are signs of corruption and that these equipment are resold and relocated.