According to prosecutors speaking with AFP on Tuesday, South Korea has brought charges against a former Samsung executive who is suspected of stealing company secrets worth hundreds of millions of dollars in order to build up a counterfeit chip factory in China.
The United States and China are currently engaged in a vigorous war over access to chip-making technology and materials, and the subject of semiconductors has emerged as a potential source of conflict between the two countries.
Prosecutors in South Korea have stated that a former employee of Samsung who is now 65 years old is suspected of stealing industrial plans and clean-room designs from the company for the years 2018 and 2019.
According to the office of the district prosecutor in Suwon, he attempted to set up a replica production facility in the Chinese city of Xian, which is already home to a chip factory owned by Samsung. However, his efforts were fruitless.
The guy, who has not been identified and is currently being held in prison pending trial, is suspected of stealing information that South Korea considers to be “national core technology.” This is a category of technology that, if released internationally, may potentially do harm to both national security and the economy.
According to the prosecution, he had been detained for a period of time prior to being formally charged on Monday.
They referred to him as a “top expert in semiconductor manufacturing” and noted that he had spent decades working in the sector.
According to the police in South Korea, the information that was allegedly targeted in the crime would have been worth at least 300 billion won to Samsung, which is equivalent to $236 million.
“It is a serious crime that can have a tremendously 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,” prosecutors said in a statement on Monday. “It is a crime that can have a tremendously negative impact on our economic security by shaking the foundation of the domestic semiconductor industry.”
The semiconductor industry is an asset to South Korea’s national security and accounted for 16.5% of the country’s total exports in 2022.
Six other people who worked with the executive and are suspected of being involved in the theft have been charged in connection with the incident.
When the AFP reached out to Samsung on Tuesday, the company declined to comment.
chip war Samsung Electronics is one of the leading producers of chips and smartphones in the world, and the turnover of its parent firm is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of South Korea’s GDP. This fight is known as the “chip war.”
China is home to a significant amount of the company’s production, much like it is for many of the largest chip manufacturers in the globe.
Chips are the lifeblood of the current global economy, and China, the world’s second-largest economy, relies on a regular supply of chips manufactured by foreign corporations for its enormous electronics manufacturing industry. Chips are the lifeblood of the modern global economy.
The United States of America implemented a number of export restrictions throughout the course of the previous year with the intention of preventing China from obtaining the most cutting-edge chips, which have the potential to be utilized in cutting-edge weaponry as well as frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence.
This year, the Netherlands and Japan followed suit by imposing their own limitations, but they did not specifically name China.
However, the restrictions have angered Beijing, which has accused the United States of engaging in “technological terrorism.”
Last month, China announced that the American semiconductor company Micron had failed a national security evaluation, and it instructed operators of “critical information infrastructure” to stop purchasing its goods.
Analysts have seen such action as a form of retribution for the restrictions imposed by the United States on semiconductor exports.