.Taiwan’s New Taipei District Prosecutors Office is investigating whether Bitmain, a Mainland Chinese crypto-mining giant , “poached” up to 100 AI Engineers from Taiwanese businesses in an operation that allegedly began in 2018.
According the Japanese media outlet Nikkei as well as the Taiwanese publications Apple Daily and Liberty Times, prosecutors entered at least seven New Taipei City addresses and Hsinchu to question around 20 people. The investigation is reportedly focused on two companies, namely (*]IC Link
, and (*]WiseCore . Offices were raided by the authorities for payroll data, employee names, contracts and payroll data. The office also confiscated computers and mobile phones.
Nikkei stated that it had spoken with the office. The latter said that Bitmain “allegedly first lured an engineer to work for a Chinese company as a Chairman in China and asked him to persuade his former colleagues to do the same.”
A spokesperson for the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office stated that Bitmain “had been poaching Taiwanese researchers and developers to accelerate its efforts to create artificial intelligence chip capabilities by illegally setting-up companies in Taiwan. The newly formed companies served a purpose of headhunting and the time span of what Bitmain did dates back in 2018.” (*). A New Taipei District Attorneys Office spokesperson stated, “We discovered that Bitmain has been poaching Taiwanese researchers and developers to accelerate its efforts to develop artificial intelligence chips.”(*). Bitmain has indicated that it is keen to enter the AI chip market. However, Bitmain, just like other Chinese hardware companies, heavily relies on Taiwan Semiconductor for most of its production needs. (*)Taiwanese law prohibits Chinese investors from interfering with Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. (*)Nikkei has also claimed that it has spoken to lawyers that Bitmain executives could be charged with “forgery” for having filed papers in Taiwan to set up a business. However, they did not disclose their origin. Apple Daily reports that Bitmain initially tried to lure Taiwanese engineers into moving to the Mainland by promising them salaries twice their incomes. The mining giant decided to change its strategy after the alleged plan failed. Instead, it reportedly set up Taiwan-based “illegally established” firms. Bitmain was contacted for comment by our(*). Bitmain’s cofounder Jihan Wu quit as CEO and Chairman in January, according to reports. (*)
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