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S. Korean group accused of selling microchip secrets

More than a dozen South Koreans have been charged with stealing semiconductor technology and selling it to a Taiwanese company, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Prosecutors in the city of Suwon said the theft could seriously erode the technological edge of South Korean memory chipmakers.South Korea, which plans to export $16 billion worth of memory chips this year, is the world's largest producer of the chips and accounts for more than 30 percent of the world market.

Most of the leaked information was about manufacturing 64-megabit dynamic random access memory chips, the largest memory chips now in mass-production, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they were expanding their investigation and indicated that more people could be arrested.

The investigation began in January, when Samsung Electronics Co. - the world's largest memory chipmaker - filed a complaint that its semiconductor secrets were leaking, possibly by insiders.

Prosecutors said Kim Hyong-ik, 39, set up Korea Semiconductor Technology Co. in Seoul in 1997 and lured engineers from Samsung and another major chipmaker, LG Electronics Co., with bribes and offers of big salaries to obtain the technology.