Taiwan prosecutors have accused Bitmain Technologies of illegally poaching more than 100 Taiwanese engineers.
According to a report from Nikkei Asia, a probe has already been launched in New Taipei and Hsinchu – Taiwan’s semiconductor manufacturing hub – to investigate the Chinese chipmaker’s crypto mining activities.
New Taipei Prosecutor’s Office reports that as part of the illegal poaching venture, the bitcoin mining chip maker allegedly created shell companies that were used for illegal recruitment, adding:
“We found that Bitmain was recruiting Taiwanese research and development talent to accelerate its artificial intelligence chip capability efforts by illegally establishing businesses in Taiwan. The newly founded companies served a headhunting purpose and the period in which Bitmain was active goes back to 2018. “
The move by Taiwan officials comes as Beijing is reportedly stepping up stakes in its own chip manufacturing industry. Semiconductors are set to be the focus of the National People’s Congress, which begins March 12.
A global famine has brought the Sino-US economic struggle to the fore. US President Joe Biden recently called for a thorough review of the American semiconductor supply chain.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the increasing demand for the limited supply of semiconductors has caused Bitcoin miners to face chip shortages. This situation has resulted in a significant premium to the price of crypto mining hardware for both new and used rigs.
Meanwhile, Bitmain’s investigation into alleged illegal engineering poaching could potentially lead to issues such as trade secret disclosure and technology theft.
The investigation could also impact Bitmain’s relationship with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company – the world’s largest chip maker.
With semiconductor technology now a major focus of the economic conflict between China and the United States and the apparent deepening of diplomatic ties between Washington and Taipei, the TSMC is reportedly working with major US technology firms like Apple.
TSMC and the iPhone maker are reportedly investigating research and development protocols for the next generation (2 nm) 2-nanometer chipsets.