A former senior Samsung employee from South Korea, who was recently arrested on suspicion of industrial espionage to later build a replica of his company’s factory, delivered a message to the press from prison. In it he rejects accusations that he wants to organize production in Xi’an, China.
Earlier this month, Choi Jinseog was accused of illegally obtaining classified data and planning to use it to build a semiconductor factory in China, 1.5 kilometers from Samsung’s plant. In the letter, Choi stated that he plans to build a factory for Foxconn to manufacture DRAM memory, while the Samsung factory, which he allegedly intended to copy, for NAND memory production and the technological processes for production different memory types differ by more than 30%. NAND production is more complicated and requires different equipment, so stealing such secrets would not benefit project participants.
Foxconn previously said it knew that “Speculations related to the incident‘, but did not comment on the progress of the investigation. The company emphasized that it complies with local laws where it operates.
According to journalists, the 18-page indictment alleges that Choi planned to build a DRAM manufacturing plant for Foxconn and illegally used secret data that employees at the company he founded received from Samsung contractors. Prosecutors allege Choi poached a large number of Samsung and related companies and pressured some experts to obtain confidential information, including clean room management data and factory drawings and models, to speed up plant construction in China.
According to Choi’s attorney, the information is not important because it is readily available at all manufacturing facilities. Prosecutors insist they are key technologies for the state and the damage to Samsung is over $200 million.
In the letter, Choi said he plans to build a chip R&D line and has no need to copy Samsung’s mass production lines. Additionally, the facility was never built after Foxconn abandoned the project. At the same time, it is emphasized that the Samsung plant simply did not have the capacity for research and development, and therefore there was simply nothing to copy.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the letter before the July 12 trial. Authorities said the main reason was allegations of illegally obtaining and using vital information – which Choi categorically denies. In addition, he claims that building a company near the Samsung plant was not planned at all after considering various options including Xi’an and finally selecting the city of Qingdao.
According to the lawyer, a request is being made for health reasons to release Choi on bail pending trial. The statements that the possible criminal is “driven” and “insane” are also confirmed by his adviser.