Samsung denies any involvement in theft of supplier ASML's secrets

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AMSTERDAM/SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung on Wednesday denied any involvement in an intellectual property theft from supplier ASML.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

ASML last week disclosed that former employees took company secrets to U.S. software maker Xtal Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in December after losing a $223 million judgment to ASML over the matter.

The Dutch semiconductor equipment maker’s chief executive Peter Wennink denied initial reports that the Chinese government had been behind the theft, and added that funding for XTAL had come in part from China and in part from Korea.

Wennink reiterated the alleged Korean connection in a TV interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS on Tuesday.

“What we have found evidence for is that the (secrets) were stolen by people of American and Chinese nationality with Chinese background,” he told NOS. “Those products were used to provide services to our largest Korean customer.”

Samsung is ASML’s largest South Korean customer and its largest customer overall. China is a key growth market, and the cause of a bullish 2019 forecast from ASML on Wednesday, along with better-than-expected first-quarter