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Bitmain Loses 10,000 Antminer Rigs to Thieving Staff Members

Bitmain former employee

Crypto mining rig manufacturer Bitmain is finding it challenging to stabilize its operations. With the company hoping to bounce back from a seemingly lackluster 2019, controversies continued to cloud it.

The latest controversy is the alleged theft of Antminer mining rigs, for which some of the company’s staff have now been implicated.

Company and Client Miners Missing

This week, a post surfaced on the Antminer page on WeChat, claiming that former employees of the Chinese mining giant had moved a thousand Antminer rigs from one of Bitmain’s facilities. The post confirmed that the machines include models from the T17 and S17 ranges, as well as Bitmain’s famous S9 miners.

The machines were moved from a Bitmain-owned facility in Mongolia in mid-July. Besides the machines that Bitmain owns, the post explained that some stolen rigs also belonged to clients who hosted and operated their hardware at its farms.

Bitmain confirmed that it had reported the incident to the police.

Micree Zhan Weighs In

The news soon became part of Bitmain’s current power play, with Micree Ketuan Zhan, one of Bitmain’s co-founders, accusing his partner, Jihan Wu, of stealing the rigs. In a separate post, Zhan claimed that Wu had transferred the machines illegally, although he didn’t explain why Wu would do such a thing.

Zhan and Wu have been at odds since October last year, when Wu orchestrated an ouster that saw Zhan lose his position as the chairman of Bitmain’s board of directors. The ousting came as a shock to all, especially considering the speed and efficiency with which Wu managed to carry it out.

However, Zhan didn’t take the ousting too well. He vowed to fight for control of the company in courts earlier this year, and the two parties have been in the middle of a legal struggle ever since.

For his part, Wu does appear to have the co-operation of Bitmain’s board. Earlier this year, the company published statements on its Weibo page claiming that the decision to fire Zhan was unanimous. The statement added that Zhan could no longer represent Bitmain in any manner, and that workers should refrain from doing business with or taking orders from him. Any staff member who spoke with him could face legal action.

Despite that, Zhan has been resolute in his fight. He has also scored some big wins, with local tech news source BlokBeats reporting last month that he managed to take over Bitmain’s Beijing subsidiary.

Bitmain’s Beijing subsidiary is one of the company’s most profitable. Controlling it marked a turning point in the battle for the company’s leadership, and it only encouraged Zhan to make a bigger play. This month, he sent an open letter to the company’s board, offering to solve the leadership tussle by buying out other top company executives’ shares.

In his letter, Zhan explained that he still owns 36 percent of Bitmain, while Wu owns just 20 percent. Zhan also owns 60 percent of a Bitmain-owned subsidiary in the Cayman Islands.

To wit, he offered to buy out Wu and three other early company investors who have a joint 15 percent. He added that he’d like to purchase the company’s employee option pool, which makes 19 percent of its stock, and several other external investors’ stakes. In total, his buyout offer stood at $4 billion.

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