TNB fights electricity theft with key input from MACC

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has joined hands with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in its fight to put an end to electricity theft for bitcoin mining.

In cooperation with the Energy Commission (EC), TNB announced the immediate implementation of new measures that would improve the governance and management of the nation's power assets.

Drawn up with input from the MACC, the measures are aimed at making it easier to identify and prevent unauthorised bitcoin mining operations while also tackling corruption related to electricity theft.

TNB president and chief executive officer Datuk Megat Jalaluddin Megat Hassan said new measures would include an increase in CCTV surveillance at high-risk hotspots, such as main entry substations and main distribution substations.

“We also plan to purchase up to 5,000 units of barrel locks which will be installed on certain users’ or premises’ electrical meter boxes that have been deemed high risk.

“Biometric keyless systems will also be selectively installed on 11-kilovolt (kV) electrical transformers or low-voltage feeder pillars identified as high risk, involving around 3,000 units,” Megat said in his speech at the signing of the MACC’s Advisory Service Report to TNB on Monday (May 27).

He added that a pilot project involving the use of drones with heat detection capabilities is currently being tested to identify bitcoin mining operations from a distance.

“Cryptocurrency mining can generate a lot of heat, so the drones are flown around known hotspots to detect unusually high temperatures in buildings,” he told a press conference after the event.

EC chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Razib Dawood said the report’s new measures would strengthen internal controls to prevent corruption or bribery.

“This will create a cleaner and healthier work culture while at the same time increasing the level of organisational integrity,” he said in his speech at the event.

MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki said the new recommendations would also ensure improved governance for TNB and the well-being of the people.

“This preventive action is key to reduce losses and ensure the sustainability of the country's electricity supply management.

“This will benefit the people the most by reducing the risk of electrical disturbances that may occur due to electricity theft,” he said in his speech.

Azam said MACC had identified and cracked down on 988 illegal cryptocurrency mining premises across Malaysia which had used special devices to avoid detection while they siphoned large amounts of electricity from the grid.

“MACC also apprehended a suspect who offered bribe money ranging from RM3,000 to RM300,000 to TNB employees in return for not taking any action, and for leaking TNB operational information.

“We also successfully seized RM2.37mil from such premises and cash amounting to RM281,180.

“Assets amounting to RM4.47mil involving 97 individuals, 29 companies and 126 bank accounts have also been frozen while 1,157 bitcoin mining machines worth RM2.34mil have also been confiscated,” he said.

The seizure included ewallet values totalling RM82,000 and cryptocurrency worth US$25,893.46 (about RM122,000), as well as five luxury cars.

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