Top startup entrepreneur lands in legal trouble

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Top startup entrepreneur lands in legal trouble


Police said they are investigating Seo Seung-mo, 52, one of the most successful startup entrepreneurs in Korea, for illegally bugging the office of the CEO of the company he founded.

The Songpa Precinct Police in Seoul said yesterday that Seo has been accused of illegally bugging the office of Kim Dong-jin, CEO of C&S Technology Corporation, which makes microchips for cars, since December.

Seo founded C&S and was its CEO until March 12, when the board fired him for giving company guarantees to his personal creditors.

The police said Seo allegedly also broke into Kim’s computer in order to sell the company’s confidential information.

“We accused Seo after securing CCTV footage that showed him planting the (bugging) device,” a spokesman for C&S told the JoongAng Ilbo.

According to the corporation, bad investments had saddled Seo with ten billion won in debt. The company said Seo offered Kim his stake in C&S for 10 billion won, ($8.8 million) but Kim turned him down.

The company said Seo was its second largest shareholder with 7.29 percent of the company’s shares until last year, but he has sold all but 0.39 percent.

Contacted by telephone by the JoongAng Ilbo, Seo denied the charges.

“It’s a terrible conspiracy plotted by people who are trying to take the company away from me without any compensation,” Seo said. “The truth will be revealed in a court.”

The Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said they are investigating Seo for embezzling 9.3 billion won of the company’s money.

Seo is suspected of dumping his personal debts onto the corporation by issuing promissory notes with the corporation’s seal. Prosecutors said the corporation is forced to pay off the notes.

The board of directors fired Seo a day after the promissory notes were issued on March 11 and last Friday asked the prosecution to charge him with dereliction of duty.

Trading in C&S shares were halted Friday. The amount of the notes exceeded five percent of the company’s total equity capital.

Seo was considered one of the most successful young Korean entrepreneurs.

He started C&S in 1993 at the age of 30, after quitting Samsung Electronics and made it the No. 1 producer of semiconductors for cars.

The company has sales of more than 20 billion won a year.

Seo was made the first chairman of the Korea Venture Business Association in 2009.

By Lee Jeong-bong, Kwon Sang-soo []
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