NYU Student’s $6 Million Crypto Mine Reveals Hidden Money Trail from China to U.S

December 29, 2023

By Anjali Kochhar

In a surprising legal dispute in the small Texas town of Channing, a 23-year-old NYU student, Jerry Yu, has unintentionally become a case study in how Chinese nationals move money from China to the United States without attracting the attention of authorities in either country, the New York Times reported.

Jerry Yu, fittingly described as “second-generation rich” in China, owns a Bitcoin mine in Texas, valued at over $6 million. The mine, operated by his company BitRush Inc. (also known as BytesRush), was acquired last year through a cryptocurrency transaction, offering a level of anonymity that traditional financial transactions lack. The transaction was routed through an offshore exchange, preventing the origin of the financing from being traced.

This secrecy allows Chinese investors to bypass both the U.S. banking system and Chinese restrictions on moving money out of the country. Chinese nationals have been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the United States to build or operate crypto mines after the Chinese government banned such operations in 2021.

The legal troubles for BitRush began when contractors in the small Texas town claimed they weren’t fully paid for their work on the crypto mine. Lawsuits ensued, shedding light on financial transactions that are usually kept private. These revelations are particularly significant as Chinese investors continue to invest heavily in U.S. crypto mines.

BitRush’s mine in Channing, consisting of several buildings with specialised computers, aims to generate cryptocurrency, primarily Bitcoin. The process involves solving complex mathematical problems to earn new Bitcoins, currently valued at over $40,000 each. These mines, often owned by Chinese investors, have drawn attention due to their impact on the electrical grid and national security concerns.

In one of the lawsuits against Jerry Yu, Texas-based Crypton Mining Solutions alleges that investors in the Channing mine have political influence in China. The lawsuit, however, lacks conclusive evidence, and the public money trail ends at Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange. It’s revealed that Binance’s offshore operations, handling the transaction, were not complying with American banking rules at the time.

Recently, Binance pleaded guilty to violating anti-money-laundering regulations, agreeing to pay hefty fines. This case highlighted the exchange’s failure to adhere to laws, including the Bank Secrecy Act, which mandates lenders to verify customers’ identities and report suspicious transactions to the U.S. Treasury.

Jerry Yu, when questioned about these allegations, referred inquiries to Gavin Clarkson, BitRush’s lawyer, who stated in an email that the company “complies with all required federal, state, and local laws and regulations.” He dismissed Crypton’s claims as baseless and without merit, asserting that BitRush is owed money.

In Channing, the arrival of BitRush last year created a buzz, providing jobs to locals involved in constructing the mine. However, disputes over unpaid work have led to legal battles between BitRush and contractors.

Documents shared by David Huang, Crypton’s lawyer, reveal how BitRush planned to buy the Texas site using Tether, a cryptocurrency with a fixed value of $1. The purchase agreement detailed the use of Tether, with a wallet address specified for the funds. Notably, the source of the funds was not publicly recorded and is known only to Binance.

The issue of traceability in crypto transactions is recognised by blockchain analysts. Once funds are sent to a centralised service on the blockchain, tracing them to the individual sender becomes challenging without legal processes such as court orders.

Despite the challenges posed by the legal disputes, Jerry Yu’s lawyer maintains that BitRush complies with all laws and regulations. The use of Tether in crypto transactions, widespread in the Bitcoin-mining industry, raises concerns about avoiding taxes.

Documents identifying BitRush shareholders at the time of the Channing purchase include an investor from IMO Ventures, a China-focused venture capital firm, and another shareholder named “Lao Yu.” The connection between Jerry Yu and these shareholders remains unconfirmed by his lawyer.

The founder of Outlaw Mining, Josey Parks, refrained from commenting on his financial arrangement with BitRush due to a nondisclosure agreement. However, he described Jerry Yu as a college student in the U.S. with a wealthy family.

In a landscape where crypto investments and mining operations are becoming increasingly complex, the legal battles in Channing provide a glimpse into the hidden financial manoeuvres of Chinese investors in the United States. The outcome of these lawsuits may further impact the regulations surrounding cryptocurrency transactions and ownership.

About the author

Anjali Kochhar covers cryptocurrency stories in India as well as globally. Having been in the field of media and journalism for over three years now, she has developed a sharp news sense and works hard to present information that goes beyond the obvious. She is an avid reader and loves writing on a wide range of subjects.

Translate Now