Various outlets reported a former Samsung Electronics executive was charged over alleged theft of chip-making secrets for use at a rival manufacturing facility in China, a move with the potential to fuel current tensions over silicon sovereignty.

Suwon High Prosecutor’s Office revealed it had indicted the suspect today (12 June), with the alleged activity estimated to have caused KRW300 billion-worth ($233 million) of losses for Samsung, Reuters reported.

The news outlet reported prosecutors stated the alleged crime could shake “the foundation” of the South Korean chip industry. The unnamed individual also worked with SK Hynix, accruing a combined 28 years with the two companies, Reuters noted.

Financial Times (FT) added the individual had been a VP with SK Hynix.

It explained the person is accused of stealing information to build an entire chip-making plant rather than individual elements of silicon technology, with the proposed site within one-and-a-half kilometres of a Samsung facility in China.

FT added the prosecutor’s office revealed the executive hired around 200 people from Samsung and SK Hynix to establish a new chip-making company in China which never came to fruition due to failing to secure a $6.2 billion funding package.

The newspaper added six other individuals were also charged.

Reuters reported the activities relate to a period between 2018 and 2019, but there is obvious potential to heighten current tensions over Chinese chips following a US-led campaign against the nations’ access to technology.