Ousted Bitmain Co-Founder Takes Beijing Office with Hired Guards: Report

Micree Zhan, who has been attempting to regain footing at Bitmain for months, may have finally succeeded.

The power struggles between the cofounders of cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain appear to have heightened to a fever pitch. Jihan Wu removed co-founder Micree Zhan from the company last year; since then, Zhan has been working to fulfill a vow that he made to return to the company using legal means.

What has already been a highly public spat between the two co-founders took a rather aggressive turn on June 3rd, when Zhan reportedly attempted a physical takeover of Bitmain’s office in Beijing. According to CoinDesk, the office has been mostly empty of employees for the last several months due to the COVID-19 quarantine.

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Indeed, according to reports by Chinese publication BlockBeats, Zhan led a team of ‘Bao Ans’, or private guards, into the office on Wednesday, demanding that he be reinstated as an operating member of the company.

The report also included a video of guards marching next to what appears to be the Bitmain office; one figure can be seen blockading the door to the office from the outside with furniture.

Micree Zhan’s military-style takeover may have been effective

However, it may be that the forceful takeover was effective: the day after the video appeared online, Zhan reportedly sent an open letter to the employees of the Beijing office with claims that he had resumed control of operations.

Zhan also urged the employees to continue with their work as they normally would and said that although legal disputes are still underway, the process should be resolved soon.

Zhan also reaffirmed Bitmain’s commitment to developing advanced chips and continue its movement toward creating blockchain and AI hardware. Zhan also said that Bitmain’s IPO process will be resumed as well, and that he hopes the company will attain a market value of more than $50 billion.

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Confusion over the company’s official seal

Zhan also seems to have literally sealed the deal: another statement published on multinational technology company Baidu’s website by blockchain news source Mars Finance claims that the previous Bitmain company official seal was invalidated on May 8th, and that a new official Bitmain seal was instituted on June 1st.

Zhan’s June 4th open letter to employees bears the new official seal for Beijing Bitmain (serial number 1101081651178.) Zhan also posted a statement on June 3rd saying the previous seal, which ended in the numbers 6574, was void.

If Zhan was indeed reinstated as the company’s legal representative–and it seems that he was–he is reportedly entitled to receive a new business license for the company issued by a Beijing government agency that oversees corporate registrations; therefore, the new seal should be legitimate.

Jihan Wu condemns Micree’s takeover

However, Jihan Wu has presented a different version of the story: according to Mars Finance (which also happens to be Bitmains’ other major shareholder), Jihan Wu issued a statement from Bitmain’s Hong Kong-based holding entity claiming that Zhan forged the new seal.

CoinDesk called the new seal a “hard fork” from the original, adding that if the new seal is indeed forged, Zahn has committed an offense under China’s criminal laws.

Jihan Wu also condemned the takeover as a whole, stating that Bitmain’s Hong Kong entity remains as the sole shareholder of Bitmain’s operations in mainland China.

While there’s still a lack of information regarding who has the upper hand, CoinTelegraph reported that rumors on Chinese social media seem to suggest that Wu’s bark is rougher than his bite: that his legal position may not be as strong as he implied.

Specifically, it seems that Zhan was successful in taking over Bitmain’s legal representative position; this reportedly led Wu to begin discussing with staff the possibility of transferring employees contracts to a newly formed legal entity. CoinTelegraph says that this account is partially confirmed by public records, which show the establishment of a new Bitmain subsidiary represented by Ge Yueshang.

A Bitmain employee who spoke to CoinDesk under the condition of anonymity said that Zhan was attempting to thwart these efforts, offering cash bonuses worth 10,000 yuan ($1,500) to those returning to the office on the 3rd and 5,000 yuan ($700) for those that turned up on the 4th.

Finance Magnates reached out to Bitmain to confirm the details of this story, but did not receive a response before press time. This article will be updated as reponses are received.

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