Bitmain faces investigation in Taiwan over alleged talent-poaching conduct

The Taiwan New Taipei District Prosecutors Office has launched an investigation into bitcoin mining hardware maker Bitmain's human resources conduct in the region.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency on Tuesday, the prosecutor inspected seven offices of two locally incorporated companies that have direct relationships with Beijing-based Bitmain, as well as 19 Taiwanese executives who are associated with these companies.

The investigation focused on whether these companies violated laws by disguising their ties with a mainland Chinese company but poaching local talent in Taiwan's semiconductor industry.

The semiconductor industry – fab or fabless – is critical to the Taiwanese economy and is under local intellectual property protection.

During the Tuesday inspection, the prosecutor reportedly probed various corporate materials including company books, employee contracts, job offers, confidentiality agreements, employee roasters, computer logs and mobile phones.

The local report said that the prosecutor's investigation showed that Bitmain incorporated two directly owned subsidiaries in Taiwan specifically in the chip business.

Further, the report said the prosecutor found Bitmain poached several hundred engineers over the past three years via these local subsidiaries from major bluechip companies like TSMC and MediaTek, with offers that could double their previous paychecks.

According to local laws, mainland Chinese companies or individuals can not invest in semiconductor businesses or set up subsidiaries in the sector in Taiwan.

In addition, any mainland Chinese company or individual that wants to set up businesses in Taiwan must obtain written approval from Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs. 

Bitmain has not responded to The Block's request for comment.