Ex-official charged with stealing Samsung docs to build factory in China

Signage is seen at Samsung 837 in Manhattan, New York City, US. — Reuters/File

Prosecutors in South Korea said Tuesday that a 65-year-old former executive of software behemoth Samsung was arrested under the charges of stealing information worth millions of dollars to establish a chip factory in China, reported AFP.

According to the prosecutors, the former employee allegedly stole the company’s factory blueprints and clean-room designs from 2018 and 2019.

The suspect unsuccessfully tried to set up a copycat production facility in the Chinese city of Xian where Samsung already has a chip factory, said the Suwon district prosecutor’s office.

Authorities did not identify the detained person whose trial is awaited.

The stolen information is regarded as South Korea’s national core technology — a classification indicating potential harm to national security and the economy if disclosed overseas.

The chips or semiconductors have become an area of fierce competition between the US and China, from making to its supplies.

Prosecutors also noted that he had been in custody for some time and was formally charged Monday.

They described him as a “top expert in semiconductor manufacturing, who had worked in the industry for decades.”

Authorities said the information allegedly targeted in the theft would have been worth at least 300 billion won ($236 million) to Samsung.

Prosecutors said in a statement Monday: “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 every day/”

“The semiconductor industry accounted for 16.5% of South Korea’s total exports in 2022… and is a national security asset.”

There have been six other people who were also charged in their suspected involvement of stealing secrets.  

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