SBI Crypto Has Reportedly Cut its Ties with Russian Bitcoin Mining Firm BitRiver

BitRiver’s Bitcoin & crypto mining farm. Source: Adobe/hlxandr

 

The Japanese crypto mining operator SBI Crypto has reportedly severed its links with the Russian mining firm BitRiver – following pressure from Washington-based lawmakers.

As reported, American diplomats last month contacted Japanese firms and regulators to complain that “several” Japanese crypto exchanges were still running in the aggressor state of Russia, as were a number of mining outfits. Some Japanese firms have set up rigs in Siberia, taking advantage of low energy prices and minimal cooling costs. Others have partnered with Russian firms, who have operated mining centers on behalf of Japanese clients. One such firm is believed to be BitRiver, which operates in the crypto mining hub of Bratsk, in the Irkutsk Oblast (Southeast Siberia).

The American diplomats, however, have warned these Japanese firms that they risk violating international sanctions if they fail to cut their ties with Russia and Russian firms.

A number of crypto players have responded to these calls from American lawmakers, which were then echoed by Japanese regulators. SBI Crypto announced earlier this month that it would wrap up all of its Russia-based mining efforts.

A representative of the SBI Group, SBI Crypto’s parent company, announced that the firm “has already stopped all production in Siberia,” adding that the firm was “not engaged in mining in the rest of Russia.”

But according to “two sources familiar with the matter” who spoke to the media outlet Coindesk, SBI Crypto appears to have been working with BitRiver.

Neither SBI nor BitRiver confirmed or denied that they had been working together. But in 2019, SBI Crypto unveiled details of two overseas mining projects, at least one of which was said to have been located in an extremely cold and northerly region.

Mining pool data compiled by BTC.com, a mining pool business, indicates that SBI Crypto’s Bitcoin (BTC) mining hashrate, or computational power, has taken a dip since April this year – coinciding with the Washington-led sanctioning of BitRiver. The United States has accused BitRiver of “helping Russia monetize its natural resources” – and thus fund the conflict with Ukraine. The company denies these claims.

Shortly after this announcement, SBI further revealed that it had been working in Siberia, claiming that it had suspended its operations following the start of the war.

The Coindesk sources claimed that the sanctions had “bitten” SBI Crypto directly, and that the Japanese firm had been “hosting its mining machines at BitRiver”-run facilities.

This could mean that SBI-owned rigs are still in Siberia, rendering them unusable – and potentially unsellable. In April, Cryptonews.com reported that the American mining firm Compass Mining was hoping to sell USD 30m worth of mining hardware to Russian buyers in Russia in a bid to avoid possible EU and US sanctions.
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