Home / News / Former Samsung executive accused of stealing data to build Chinese copycat chip plant

Former Samsung executive accused of stealing data to build Chinese copycat chip plant

On Monday, South Korean prosecutors accused a former Samsung Electronics executive of stealing semiconductor data to build a Chinese copycat chip facility.

The 65-year-old former SK Hynix employee was arrested. From 2018 to 2019, he violated industrial technology protection laws and stole trade secrets to build a copy of Samsung’s semiconductor plant 1.5 kilometers from Samsung’s chip factory in Xi’an, China.

Prosecutors said an undisclosed Taiwanese company canceled more than a $6 billion (approximately 8 trillion won) investment in the ex-Samsung executive’s copycat chip plant project. Instead, he received funding from Chinese and Taiwanese investors to develop Samsung-based chip prototypes.

The indictment follows rising U.S.-China semiconductor tensions.

The suspect, a 25-year semiconductor industry veteran, founded two chip facilities in China and Singapore and hired over 200 semiconductor professionals from Samsung and SK Hynix in South Korea. Samsung could lose $233 million (300 billion won) from stolen data, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say the company tried to copy a semiconductor factory, not just semiconductor technology. “It is a serious crime that could deal a heavy blow to the foundation of the domestic semiconductor industry at a time of cut-throat competition for chip production,” the prosecutor said.

Six accomplices of the ex-Samsung official were indicted. Samsung declined comment.

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