Skip to main content

Ex-Samsung executive accused of audacious chip factory plan

People stealing trade secrets from their old workplace is nothing new, but the idea of taking information to construct an exact copy of an entire factory and its technology just a mile from the original one takes the nefarious practice to a whole new level.

An ex-Samsung executive has been accused of doing just that when he allegedly attempted to construct a replica semiconductor plant using information stolen from the Korean tech giant.

Prosecutors in South Korea this week indicted the 65-year-old former executive, accusing him of stealing Samsung technology between 2018 and 2019 and setting up a semiconductor company to run a factory that was supposed to be built just 1 mile (1.5 kilometers) from the Samsung-operated chip production plant on which it was based, in Xian, central China.

But the audacious plan suffered a setback after a Taiwanese company failed to invest a promised 8 trillion won (about $6.2 billion) in the project, the Korea Times reported.

Pressing on, the project managed to secure an investment worth 460 billion won (around $360 million) from interested parties in China, enabling it to produce trial chips at a different plant, allegedly using knowledge of Samsung technology.

The plant reportedly hired around 200 people from Samsung and SK Hynix, the world’s second-largest memory chipmaker after Samsung. The former Samsung executive is alleged to have told his employees to obtain and use Samsung’s semiconductor design data and other trade secrets at their new company.

Prosecutors have also indicted six others in connection with the alleged crime, among them a person accused of leaking the architectural plan of Samsung’s semiconductor factory.

The alleged technology leaks caused Samsung to suffer estimated damage of at least 300 billion won (around $235 million), the Korea Times reported.

“It’s a grave crime that could deal a heavy blow to our economic security by shaking the foundation of the domestic chip industry at a time of intensifying competition in chip manufacturing,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that if the project had succeeded, it would have caused Samsung “irreparable damage.”

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
All of Samsung’s videos from today’s Galaxy Unpacked event
Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra phone.

Samsung Galaxy Unpacked took place earlier today, and the tech giant was busy pulling the wraps off of gear like it was Christmas all over again.

The new kit includes three new flagship phones: the Galaxy S23, the S23 Plus, and the S23 Ultra, along with three new laptops for its Galaxy Book line.

Read more
The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is Samsung’s most powerful laptop ever
Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra laptop.

Samsung has announced updates to its flagship Galaxy Book laptops for 2023, including a new addition called the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra. This one is Samsung's answer to the 16-inch MacBook Pro -- a maxed-out beast of a laptop with up to an Nvidia RTX 4070 and an Intel 13th-gen Core i9 processor.

Samsung has shied away from tackling a larger, more powerful laptop, making the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra particularly noteworthy. It's not small though. The 16-inch laptop is 0.65 inches thick and weighs 3.9 pounds. That's large for a Samsung laptop, but it's actually over a pound lighter than the 16-inch MacBook Pro -- to put things in perspective.

Read more
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra vs. MacBook Pro 16-inch
Someone typing on the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra.

Apple's MacBook Pro 16 has emerged as one of the best laptops you can buy in the 16-inch class. It's incredibly well-built, elegantly designed, superfast and efficient, and has the best keyboard and touchpad on a laptop today. It's a hard machine to compete with outside of its high price.

But that didn't stop Samsung from pushing out the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, which is stocked with fast Intel and Nvidia components and aimed at providing a competitive but lighter 16-inch machine. The Galaxy Book3 Ultra looks good on paper, but can it compete with the MacBook Pro 16?
Specs

Read more