Cryptocurrency fundraising is now a criminal offence in China, the country’s top court said in a new interpretation of national law. Penalties for such fundraising depend in part on the value of the amount raised, according to the interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court published on Thursday. Fundraising that exceeds 100,000 yuan (US$15,800) is categorised as a “large amount”. If it involves an “extremely huge” amount of 50 million yuan, a loss of at least 25 million yuan or involves 5,000 people, which is deemed “extremely serious”, it could result in more than 10 years in prison. Fundraising by any other name is not off the hook, either. Online lending and financial leases considered to be fundraising could be charged with the illegal absorption of public savings, the court said. Why bitcoin miners exiting China are losing millions of dollars The fresh legal interpretation, scheduled to take effect next month, is aimed at “punishing illegal fundraising crimes in accordance with the law and maintaining national financial security and stability”. It is part of China’s efforts to root out financial scams and money laundering. Beijing has taken a firm stance against cryptocurrency trading and mining. In 2013, the government banned Chinese banks from dealing in bitcoin , which sold for less than US$1,000 at the time, a fraction of today’s value of nearly US$40,000. The Chinese government also banned all forms of raising capital through the issuance of digital tokens – referred to as initial coin offerings – in 2017, forcing many Chinese cryptocurrency investors to park their investments overseas. In May 2021, the Financial Stability and Development Committee under the State Council, the nation’s cabinet, said it would “crack down on bitcoin mining and trading behaviour and resolutely prevent the transfer of individual risks to society”. Earlier court rulings have shown a consistent stance against cryptocurrencies. Late last year, a Beijing court ruled that bitcoin mining contracts were invalid , suggesting the judicial system has no intention of recognising and protecting cryptocurrency-related interests.