Biden orders Chinese-backed cryptocurrency mine near Wyoming base closed

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President Biden on Monday ordered the closure of a Chinese-backed cryptocurrency mine near a Wyoming nuclear missile base, stating it poses a risk to U.S. national security.

In his executive order Monday, Biden ordered MineOne Partners Limited and its affiliates operating near Francis E. Warren Air Force Base to shut down and sell its cryptocurrency mine outside of Cheyenne, Wyo.

MineOne is “ultimately majority-owned by Chinese nationals” through a June 2022 purchase, the order said.

The order said the company made changes to the property so that it could be used for specialized cryptocurrency mining operations. It was built about a mile from an Air Force base that works with nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“The proximity of the foreign-owned Real Estate to a strategic missile base and key element of America’s nuclear triad, and the presence of specialized and foreign-sourced equipment potentially capable of facilitating surveillance and espionage activities, presents a national security risk to the United States,” the executive order stated.

The company and its affiliates were also ordered to remove their equipment from the property within the next 90 days. The sale or transfer of the company must be done within 120 days, according to the order.

It comes months after The New York Times reported last October that Microsoft, which runs a nearby data center in connection with the Pentagon, expressed concerns about the facility to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Microsoft warned it could allow the Chinese to “pursue full-spectrum intelligence collection operations,” per the Times.

CFIUS is an inter-agency body that reviews deals and mergers involving foreign companies for national security concerns. It has the authority to order companies to alter ownership structures or divest from the U.S.

A 2018 law gave CFIUS the authority to investigate real estate transactions near sensitive sites in the U.S., The Associated Press reported.

MineOne’s purchase of the property was not filed with CFIUS until the committee began investigating the transaction, per the executive order.

The Hill has reached out to MineOne via the company website for comment.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who chairs CFIUS, touted the committee’s “gatekeeper role” in a statement on Monday.

“It [the divestment order] also highlights the critical gatekeeper role that CFIUS serves to ensure that foreign investment does not undermine our national security, particularly as it relates to transactions that present risk to sensitive U.S. military installations as well as those involving specialized equipment and technologies,” she wrote.

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