3 min Security

CEO ASML suggests that Samsung was behind espionage

CEO ASML suggests that Samsung was behind espionage

According to ASML leader Peter Wennink, the Chinese government was not at all behind the company’s espionage. In an interview with the NOS, he suggests that that is Samsung. The smartphone manufacturer denies that.

Last week it was announced that various data from ASML had been stolen. A link was quickly established with Chinese spies, partly because of the nationality of the guilty employees. The theft would have taken place several years ago. The data is said to be intended for the Chinese XTAL, which, like ASML, is involved in the production of electronic circuits.


After it turned out that ASML had been spied on, the company hired a third party to do research. Wennink now contends to the NOS that XTAL had both Chinese and Korean lenders. Wennink wondered where those lines were heading.

It is true that the alleged spies are all born and raised in China, although some of them are now of American nationality. However, Wennink says that no evidence of Chinese state espionage has been found. However, there is evidence that the stolen products were “used to provide services to our largest Korean customer”. Wennink seems to be suggesting that Samsung was behind the espionage.

The Korean company would have made spies eager to steal the software and start their own business. Samsung became a 30 percent shareholder of XTAL in 2016 and ASML lost the company as a customer. After a lawsuit against XTAL – which was won by ASML – Samsung came back to ASML.


Samsung states in a reaction that the claims of Wennink are not true. “We are very disappointed with the media reports that assume or even suggest that Samsung is involved in some malice against ASML, which is not true.” According to our own statement, protecting and respecting the intellectual property rights (IPs) of others is a top priority.

“Although we cannot disclose details of our business agreements, Samsung has taken precautions to ensure that the development contract with XTAL complies with all laws and regulations. This includes a clause that specifically prohibits the illegal use of third party IPs. All products resulting from our collaboration with XTAL do not interfere with ASML’s IPs,” says the company.

Samsung also emphasises that the cooperation with ASML “has always remained good and has had no interruption”.

Good tyre

ASML has a good relationship with China, where half of the world’s chips are produced. The company’s turnover in China doubled last year to 1.8 billion euros, as a result of the growing semiconductor market and associated manufacturing in China.

However, Wennink recognises that there is a risk that trade secrets could be stolen in China. That’s why they need proper security. The investments in our own security have therefore certainly quadrupled in recent years.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.