TSMC engineer wanted to pass secrets on to China

Taiwan chip giant to write to Shanghai rival HLMC about the case

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TSMC headquarters.

TSMC headquarters. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An engineer about to leave Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, 台積電) wanted to pass on secrets about its 28 nanometer technology process to his new employer in China, Shanghai Huali Microelectronics Corp. (HLMC, 華力微), reports said Tuesday.

TSMC is the world’s leading contract chip maker, and was founded and is still chaired by Morris Chang (張忠謀).

The Hsinchu District Prosecutors Office was charging the man, named Hsu (徐), with breach of trust and with violating confidential business information legislation, reports said.

TSMC would write HLMC Tuesday telling the Chinese company should not use illegally acquired business documents and information. The Taiwanese chipmaker said it would take any action necessary to protect the confidentiality of its business data.

Hsu first announced his resignation from TSMC last January, but an internal investigation found he had once made large-scale use of company copiers, which led to questioning by his manager. He admitted having obtained the technical data, while a TSMC staff member who accompanied him home found large quantities of company information there.

As those acts already amounted to violations of company guidelines, TSMC terminated his employment and reported him to the Hsinchu authorities.

It was the investigators who found out that Hsu had visited an HLMC factory last December and had reportedly accepted a job offer from the Shanghai company.