The Russian Federal Customs Service has opened a criminal investigation into an importer of Bitmain bitcoin miners for allegedly underpaying customs fees.

The Far-East Trading and Industrial Company (DTPK) is accused of failing to pay approximately $1.2 million in fees for the importation of 6,012 ASIC miners that entered Russia between August 2017 and February 2018.

DTPK Allegedly Submits Fraudulent Documentation

According to a warrant dated July 17 that was obtained by CoinDesk, DTPK gave customs falsified documents that containing incorrect pricing for the imported miners. DTPK allegedly also fraudulently claimed to be receiving mining hardware from Korean manufacturer MSR Co. via Hong Kong-based distributor, Manli. However, the warrant indicates that MSR has not conducted business with DTPK since the expiration of a contract between the two companies that was signed in 2012.

A translation of the warrant stated: 

In an undefined time, but no later than August 8, 2017, [DTPK CEO] Artem Aleksandrovich Bublik [DTPK's operator] got involved in a criminal conspiracy with undefined individuals, the goal of the conspiracy being avoiding due customs fees in especially large amounts while importing into the Eurasian Economic Union of ASIC miners and power elements for ASIC miners.

Mining Companies Raided for Suspected Affiliation With DTPK

The investigation into DTPK was publicly announced on July 25 during the TerraCrypto conference of cryptocurrency miners in Moscow. During the event, the founder of Intelion Mining, Alexander Shashkov, revealed that armed customs officers conducted raids on his company’s offices on July 18 after suspecting that machines imported by DTPK made their way to Intelion’s data center. He recounted:

In Tula, 20 people with machine guns arrived; in Moscow, 10 people without machine guns, just pistols. [They] told everyone to get their hands off the computers.

Shashkov claims that 2,500 ASICs were seized from his company because of their owners failing to present valid documentation, despite the units having no connection to DTPK.

‘Grey’ ASIC Market Between China and Russia Booms

According to Alexey Afanasev, Intelion’s sales director, “70%” of miners entering Russia via China “are coming via grey schemes,” and thus lack proper documentation.

Yulia Fetisova, a Russian-based representative of Bitmain stated: “The grey ones come from the Chinese reselling companies and don’t go through the Russian office. Often, people don’t want to wait for the delivery from us, so they go to these reselling companies because they want their miners here and now.”