Childhood Friends Battle Over Ownership of North America's Largest Bitcoin Mine

Published on by Coindesk | Published on

Coinmint was started in 2016 when childhood friends Ashton Soniat and Prieur Leary each put $25,000 into the cryptocurrency prospecting firm.

They would go on to develop a bitcoin mine in Massena, N.Y., that is now believed to be the largest such facility in North America; it draws some 80 megawatts of power, or the same amount used by roughly 60,000 average U.S. households.

Leary, a co-founder who until recently was Coinmint's president, filed the dissolution suit in Delaware Chancery Court in December, claiming Soniat, who serves as CEO, unilaterally moved Coinmint's headquarters to Puerto Rico and then shut him out of day-to-day management.

Coinmint's story dates back decades before bitcoin was even invented.

Massena boasts natural resources that are attractive to bitcoin miners like Coinmint.

In mid-2018, Coinmint said it would invest as much as $700 million in the Massena facility, creating an estimated 150 jobs over the ensuing 18 months, CNBC reported at the time.

Coinmint got hit with a lawsuit from a landlord in Plattsburgh, N.Y., where it was operating a separate, smaller bitcoin mine from space in a strip mall.

In August 2018, Coinmint considered launching its own digital token to pre-sell batches of bitcoin mining processing power known as "Hashrate" to buyers.

Last year, a private equity firm offered to buy a stake in Coinmint at a valuation of over $80 million; a few months later, a reduced offer valued the company closer to $60 million.

Soniat said in the phone interview he's the majority owner of Coinmint, so decisions over a sale or new financing are his to make.