South Korean prosecutors on Friday raided LG Electronics’ headquarters in Seoul as part of an investigation into a claim that its employees had damaged rival Samsung's washing machines at two retail stores in Germany ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin, Reuters reported, citing local news reports.
Investigators from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office raided the offices of the head of LG's home appliances division and confiscated documents and computer hard disks related to the IFA fair, which was held in September, Reuters reported, citing Yonhap. The investigators also searched LG’s factory in the southeastern city of Changwon, following Samsung's complaint against its competitor.
Jo Seong-jin, LG's home appliances chief and one of the accused in the case, said Sunday that he will cooperate with investigators after the Consumer Electronics Show, which will be held in January in Las Vegas. Jo had earlier not responded to the prosecution's summons, according to Yonhap, the official South Korean news agency.
LG had paid for the four machines that were damaged, The Wall Street Journal reported in September. Initially, both LG and Samsung had not explicitly named each other in the case.
"Our executives, which included a company president, indeed paid this shop a visit to check out a number of products," LG said, in a statement, the Journal reported in September, adding: “Unlike washing machines from other companies, a certain company's washing-machine model was particularly weak on the hinges."
Samsung, which did not directly address LG’s claims, had said in a statement in September that LG's claims that the Samsung machines were defective motivated the company to report the matter to authorities.
"Despite our best efforts to avoid further confrontation and escalation of the situation, the company in question has tarnished not only Samsung's brand image but also the reputation of Samsung employees by making slanderous claims that our washing machines were defective," a spokesperson for Samsung had said in the statement, according to the Journal.