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Trial starts for Korean chip executive accused of stealing Samsung secrets for China factory

Trial starts for Korean chip executive accused of stealing Samsung secrets for China factory

Suwon, South Korea, July 12 (Reuters) – On Wednesday, the trial of Choi Jinseog, a former executive at Samsung Electronics, commenced amid accusations of stealing sensitive information developed by the global memory chip leader. The case serves as a testament to South Korea’s rigorous crackdown on industrial espionage.

Prosecutors contend that Choi Jinseog, a prominent figure in South Korea’s chip industry and a chip expert, pilfered valuable information from Samsung Electronics to aid his client in establishing a chip manufacturing facility in China. The trial’s high profile underscores Seoul’s determination to combat industrial espionage and impede China’s advancements in chip production.

Currently detained in Suwon, a city south of Seoul where Samsung’s headquarters are located, Choi appeared in court wearing a beige prison uniform and vehemently denied all charges against him. Choi’s lawyer, Kim Pilsung, asserted that his client neither utilized nor ordered the use of Samsung Electronics’ data. According to the defense, the information Choi allegedly stole does not qualify as trade secrets or critical national technology.

When asked by the judge if he concurred with his lawyer’s statement, Choi briefly responded with a “yes.”

Prosecutors have also pressed charges against five former employees of Choi’s chip consulting firm, Jin Semiconductor, as well as a former employee of a Samsung contractor. The courtroom at the Suwon district court was filled with numerous individuals, including Choi’s family and friends.

Last month, Choi, through a letter sent from prison to Reuters, refuted the allegations that he had intended to establish a replica chip factory in China using unlawfully obtained information from Samsung’s supplier network.

Representatives from Samsung were not available for immediate comment.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Stephen Coates


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