The South Korean police have arrested two men accused of leaking LG Electronics’ technology to a Chinese company, the police said Tuesday.
The South Gyeongsang Province police charged two former employees of LG, surnamed Yoon, 45, and Kang, 38, with handing over technical data to a Chinese home appliances firm, violating unfair competition and trade secret protection laws.
The two men came up with the plot last April, when a headhunter for the company offered them housing, a luxury car and doubled salary of 150 million won ($143,000) in exchange for information regarding robot vacuum cleaners.
LG Electronics is said to have invested 12 years and tens of billions of won into developing the technology. The firm is expected to lose about 7.5 billion won ($7.1 million), if the Chinese firm puts its version on the market at a lower price.
Yoon reportedly used his computer and cell phone to take and store key technology information. The LG Electronics employee of 20 years moved to the Chinese firm last July to work as a researcher. Kang joined Yoon as a researcher four months later, after leaving the company in October.
The two men were apprehended early this month, when they came back to Korea to visit their families.
The police started a probe after receiving a tip that a Chinese company was planning to launch a similar product to LG Electronics in December 2015, using key technology that it extracted from the Korean firm.
The police collected evidence from the two men’s computers and cars after narrowing down the list of possible suspects, which was done by checking the departure records of former LG Electronics employees.
By Suh Ye-seul