Iranian police have discovered and confiscated 9,404 illegal cryptocurrency mining devices in Tehran since the start of the Persian calendar year, which began on March 21.
Kambiz Nazerian, director of Tehran’s electricity distribution company, said on Monday that the energy-guzzling devices had been discovered by inspectors in different districts of the capital.
In recent years, Iranian authorities have regularly announced the discovery of illegal cryptocurrency mining machines in different parts of the country. Many of these operations were based in public places such as schools and mosques that receive free or heavily subsidized electricity.
Cryptocurrencies are created through a process known as mining, where powerful computers compete to solve complex mathematical problems. The process is very energy-intensive, often relying on electricity generated by fossil fuels, which are abundant in Iran.
Iran has a complex relationship with cryptocurrencies, which has helped conceal various types of illicit transactions prohibited by US and European sanctions.
However, numerous reports in Iranian media have indicated that large-scale crypto mining has taken place by influential or well-connected networks and that some Chinese companies have also been present in Iran using cheap electricity and subsidized.
A 2021 a study found that 4.5% of global bitcoin mining – worth around $1 billion at the time – was in Iran, causing pressure on the electricity supply at peak times and the government’s repeated assurances that the sector would be better regulated.