South Korean prosecutors have charged a former Samsung executive with stealing the company’s sensitive data – to build a copycat facility in China with special funding.

The accused is a 65-year-old with over 25 years of work experience in the chip industry, including Samsung and SK Hynix. Alongside him, the prosecutors have also indicted six other people involved in the case.

Building a Copycat of Samsung Chip Factory

While the world is going through a chip crisis and the two biggest economies are busy in a trade war, Samsung uncovered a significant data theft at one of its facilities from an ex-employee. As per the South Korean prosecutors this week, a 65-year-old former employee of Samsung stole some of the company’s sensitive data in 2018-19.

The data is mainly about Samsung’s semiconductor business, hoping to build a rival chip company in China with funding from an undisclosed Taiwanese company. But the plans fell apart since the purported appropriation was cancelled (about $6 billion). Well, the accused later got backing from investors in China and Taiwan to produce trial chip products based on Samsung’s stolen technology.

He was to have founded two chip facilities in China and Singapore and hired over 200 semiconductor professionals from Samsung and SK Hynix in South Korea for his plans. As the prosecutors charged him with trade secret theft, they estimated the accused’s toll on Samsung could be at least $233 million.

The prosecutors have also indicted six other people who’re related to the accused in this case and said

“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”.