Former Samsung Executive Faces Charges for Theft of Company Secrets in China
A former executive of Samsung, a global technology giant, has been accused of stealing company secrets with the intention of establishing a copycat computer chip factory in China. Prosecutors revealed on Tuesday that the 65-year-old individual, whose identity remains undisclosed, pilfered valuable trade secrets from Samsung in an effort to create a chip manufacturing facility in the vicinity of Xian, a city in China where Samsung already operates a plant. According to the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office, the stolen material was classified as “national core technology,” a designation under South Korean law for innovations that, if exposed abroad, could have severe repercussions on national security and the economy.Confirming the detention of the suspect, a spokesperson for the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office informed AFP that the 65-year-old is currently held at the Suwon Detention Center. Although he has been in custody for some time, formal charges were only filed on Monday.The significance of securing supplies of advanced chips has escalated to a critical level globally, as the United States and China engage in a fierce battle for control over the market. Samsung, renowned as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of memory chips and smartphones, boasts an overall turnover that amounts to approximately one-fifth of South Korea’s gross domestic product.According to authorities, the stolen Samsung factory blueprints and clean-room designs from 2018 and 2019, which the accused allegedly attempted to misappropriate, would have held an estimated value of at least 300 billion won ($236 million) for Samsung.The prosecutors’ statement, released on Monday, emphasized the severity of the crime, stating, “It is a serious crime that can have a tremendous negative impact on our economic security by shaking the foundation of the domestic semiconductor industry at a time when competition for chip production is intensifying day by day.” Furthermore, the statement underscored the significance of the semiconductor industry, which accounted for 16.5 percent of South Korea’s total exports as of 2022 and is considered a crucial national security asset.In addition to the detained executive, prosecutors have charged six other individuals believed to be accomplices in the theft, all of whom were former colleagues of the accused. The suspect himself had accumulated 28 years of experience working at South Korea’s leading chip manufacturers, and prosecutors described him as a “top expert in semiconductor manufacturing” within the country.