Arrested Chip Executive Denies Stealing Samsung Data in Letter from Prison

An imprisoned chip executive facing industrial espionage charges has strongly denied allegations of stealing trade secrets from Samsung to establish a copycat chip plant in China.

Korea Prosecution Service

Choi Jinseog, in a handwritten letter addressed to Reuters, shared his defense strategy and emphasized that the accusations concerning the Xian plant lacked evidence.

Prosecutors recently indicted the former Samsung executive for illicitly obtaining confidential information with the intention of constructing a semiconductor plant near a Samsung facility in Xian, China.

Choi’s letter clarified that the planned factory was intended for Foxconn in Taiwan and aimed at conducting early test production of DRAM memory chips, while Samsung’s Xian plant specialized in manufacturing NAND flash memory chips.

Explaining the distinction, Choi highlighted that DRAM process technology differs by over 30% from NAND flash chip production, both in complexity and equipment requirements.

Independent semiconductor industry experts, interviewed by Reuters but unrelated to the case, corroborated the existence of variations in processes and equipment for NAND and DRAM production, although specifics were not provided.

Samsung svg

Samsung declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigations, while neither Foxconn nor the contracted companies involved in building the Samsung plant were accused of any wrongdoing.

Choi’s letter was sent to Reuters through his adviser, who visited him recently. The adviser, a close friend, requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation.

Roh Hwa-wook, another long-time friend of Choi, who visited him on Thursday, confirmed the authenticity of the letter according to Choi’s confirmation.

Choi emphasized that his intention was to establish a research and development chip line, dismissing the need to replicate Samsung’s mass production chip facilities.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the letter’s contents ahead of Choi’s trial scheduled for July 12.

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