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When Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Finance probed a slowdown in the processing speed of computers in February, they found unusual culprits. The ministry’s own IT specialists had secretly installed software on its information processing systems to profit from mining, or encrypting and decrypting, cryptocurrencies— inadvertently also shining a light on an emerging facet of Central Asia’s largest economy.
The guilty employees, who had tapped some of the government’s most powerful computers within the state revenue departments of four different regions, were charged with financial crimes. But their fascination with cryptocurrencies is of a piece with a larger fintech revolution that Kazakhstan is trying to both propel and manage as it tries to reshape its $156 billion economy, with an eye on the future…
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