U.S. orders Chinese-backed crypto miner to sell land near nuclear missile base

May 14, 2024
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President Joe Biden issued an order on Monday forcing a Chinese-backed cryptocurrency mining company to sell land near a Wyoming nuclear missile base, citing national security concerns. 

The company, MineOne, acquired the real estate in June 2022, placing its operations within a mile of Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, a “strategic missile base and key element of America’s nuclear triad,” according to the White House. 

The company’s site contained “specialized and foreign-sourced equipment potentially capable of facilitating surveillance and espionage activities,” the presidential order said.  

Biden said there was “credible evidence” to believe that the company, a British Virgin Islands firm that is majority-owned by Chinese nationals, “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” 

MineOne was ordered to divest from the land in the next 120 days, and to remove certain improvements and equipment at the property. The company did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. 

The move from the Biden administration comes against the backdrop of a wider crackdown on Chinese companies in the U.S. ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, and amid tensions between the world’s two largest economies. 

In April, Biden signed a law to force the divestiture of social media platform TikTok from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, on grounds of national security. On Tuesday, the administration issued new tariffs on several Chinese imports including electric vehicles, medical supplies and other equipment. 

The latest order aimed at MineOne was made following an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government agency chaired by the Treasury Department that investigates corporate deals for national security concerns. 

2018 law granted CFIUS the authority to review property transactions close to sensitive U.S. facilities, including Francis E. Warren Air Force Base. 

In September, Biden issued an executive order instructing the committee to consider more national security risk factors in their assessments. The agency has also launched an investigation into TikTok. 

According to the White House order, MineOne’s property purchase was not filed to CFIUS until after the agency launched an investigation following a tip from the public.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the move against MineOne “highlights the critical gatekeeper role that CFIUS serves to ensure that foreign investment does not undermine our national security.”

China has also increased scrutiny of U.S. companies in recent years, citing national security concerns. The country recently beefed up its laws against sharing state secrets to include a broad category of “work secrets.”

The country also restricted some U.S. tech companies such as Micron from selling to operators of critical infrastructure in the country after a security review and cracked down on a number of foreign consulting firms last year. 

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