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China Sentences ‘Official’ to Life Over Bitcoin Mining Corruption

China Sentences 'Official' to Life Over Bitcoin Mining Corruption

Amid the rising global crypto fervor, China has made significant headlines by sentencing a former provincial official, Yi Xiao, to life imprisonment for corruption, which includes aiding cryptocurrency mining. 

This action has demonstrated China’s stringent stand on illegal financial activities and underlined the contrasting approaches within the Asia region towards cryptocurrency.

During his tenure as a party secretary of Fuzhou City from 2017 to 2021, Yi Xiao supported crypto mining firms. According to the court, this led to considerable damage to public assets and undermined national and people’s interests. 

The depth of Xiao’s corrupt practices came to light when the court revealed his acceptance of bribes of over 125 million yuan (equivalent to $17.1 million) between 2008 and 2021. Consequently, apart from the life sentence, he’s also barred from political involvement for life, and all his assets are confiscated.

Filecoin firm faces serious fraud allegations

Additionally, Shenzhen Shikongyun Technology, one of China’s Filecoin mining firms, was under intense scrutiny. The firm and its top brass are accused of orchestrating a massive $83.3 million pyramid scheme. The company’s business model required participants to make payments for either buying or leasing mining equipment. 

With promises of substantial returns, they lured more participants into the fold, effectively creating a pyramid structure. When authorities intercepted their operations in May 2022, Shikongyun had amassed 606.95 million yuan ($83.3 million) via its platforms.

Shenzhen Shikongyun’s trial is ongoing, with the prosecution and defense vociferously presenting their points. The court has prioritized this case, and sessions continued for two consecutive days after brief recesses. The outcome will undoubtedly have significant implications for the crypto industry in China.

Hong Kong emerges as a crypto oasis

Contrastingly, Hong Kong, unlike its mainland counterpart, is actively championing the crypto and Web3 domains. The city-state recently awarded HashKey Exchange the first-ever license under its fresh Virtual Asset Service Provider regime. This approval is groundbreaking as it enables HashKey to cater to retail investors in Hong Kong. Besides, the new regulatory framework is an effort to elevate Hong Kong as a critical player in the crypto world.

Hong Kong took a significant step by introducing this new licensing system two months ago. This move was an attempt to establish itself as a leading crypto hub on a global scale. Additionally, to boost its image as a prominent financial center, Hong Kong released a slew of policy directives related to cryptocurrencies in October 2022. This step was followed by a legislative amendment in December, which sought to streamline the licensing process for virtual asset service providers.

Previously, under the old voluntary framework, only HashKey and OSL were licensed exchanges in Hong Kong. However, with the fresh regulations, any crypto trading platform eyeing the retail segment must first secure a license.

Hong Kong’s welcoming stance towards cryptocurrencies contrasts sharply with China’s stringent measures. A study by the Hong Kong government, published in June, highlighted the growing anxiety over the city-state lagging behind its East Asian and Gulf competitors in Web3 development.

As the global crypto narrative evolves, regional approaches are becoming increasingly crucial. While China, with its recent trials, signals a rigorous stand against corruption and crypto malpractices, Hong Kong is looking to capitalize on the vast potential of the digital currency realm. How these contrasting narratives shape the future of cryptocurrency in the Asia-Pacific region remains to be seen. However, currently, industry stakeholders and observers are keenly watching every move.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.

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