Jo Seong-jin, a top exec for LG Electronics, has been accused of vandalizing washing machines made by rival company Samsung. He and two other LG executives have been indicted over the incident, an LG spokesperson tells the Wall Street Journal. Before a trade show in Germany last September, Samsung said LG execs had broken the doors of four of its washing machines at Berlin shopping centers. LG said Jo, the head of its home appliance division, and other execs were indeed surveying the competition, but insisted any broken Samsung doors were caused only by subpar hinges. Even so, LG paid for the damaged appliances, but Samsung filed a lawsuit anyway. LG countersued for defamation and evidence tampering, and then South Korean prosecutors got involved.
In December, prosecutors raided LG offices and temporarily banned Jo from traveling outside the country. Mediation attempts were unsuccessful, and Jo has now been charged with not just the allegedly deliberate damage but with defamation and obstruction of business, the LG rep says. In response to the indictment, LG has released footage of Jo performing what it calls "standard product tests" on the Samsung machines as Samsung promoters were in the room, CNET reports; the footage also shows other consumers handling the doors in a less than gentle fashion. But Samsung says the footage has been "arbitrarily edited." Says Jo's lawyer: "It is questionable whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that the president of a global company deliberately destroyed the machines where employees of the competing company were present. The truth will be revealed in the courts."