Security forces in western Libya have dismantled several factories used for cryptocurrency mining in the cities of Tripoli, Misrata, and Zliten. These factories were run by Libyans and foreigners, mostly Chinese nationals, raising questions about the spread of these factories in the country, which is larger than any other country in the region.
The raid on the cryptocurrency mining factories has brought the issue back into the spotlight. Last year, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah had spoken about how these factories were draining electricity and exacerbating the country’s power grid crisis, but it was largely ignored at the time.
The Libyan Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had arrested 50 Chinese nationals who were mining cryptocurrencies in a steel factory in Zliten, about 150 kilometers east of Tripoli. The investigations confirmed that the use of high-energy devices was harming public funds and violating monetary policy rules. The prosecutor’s office also discovered two other sites in Tripoli and Misrata that were being used for cryptocurrency mining.
Ali Al-Saih, the director of the Libyan Intelligence Agency’s media center, said that the raids were carried out after receiving information and coordinating with the Public Prosecutor’s Office and other security agencies. More than 50 people were arrested, including Chinese nationals and Libyan collaborators who admitted to engaging in mining operations that were harming the Libyan economy. The raids have also been carried out in other regions of Libya, such as Benghazi and southern Libya.
However, some lawmakers have cautioned against overreacting to the issue. Azaddin Qurayeb, a member of the Libyan House of Representatives, urged that only explicitly illegal activities should be criminalized and not those that could be considered permissible.
The use of cryptocurrency mining factories is illegal in Libya and violates the country’s monetary and banking rules. This crackdown may lead to a reduction in such activities in the future, but it remains to be seen how effective it will be in the long run.