Top LG executive indicted for damaging Samsung washing machines

Chief of LG Electronics Inc home appliances division has been indicted on charges of deliberately damaging several high-end washing machines manufactured by rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, in a development that escalates the feud between the companies.

Seoul prosecutors indicted Jo Seong-jin for allegedly vandalising four Samsung `Crystal Blue' washing machines ahead of a trade show in Germany last September, an LG Electronics spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Confirming the news, the LG Electronics spokeswoman said Jo Seong-jin and two other employees have been indicted by local prosecutors.

The court case adds to the number of disputes between the cross-town rivals.

The two companies had locked horns on a wide range of issues and products, including televisions and home appliances, and have had public spats over refrigerator capacity and market share in air-conditioning.

The indictment of the top official comes after months of investigation. Samsung official had, in September, accused Jo and other LG employees of deliberately damaging Samsung washers at retail stores in Germany.

Though LG had agreed to compensate for accidental damage to four machines after mediation by German authorities, it could not resist the opportunity to pass remarks over the quality of its rival's products.

''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,'' Ham Yoon-keun, a lawyer who will be defending Jo in court, said in a statement provided by LG. ''The truth will be revealed in the courts.''

The dispute has been simmering for months and LG initially agreed to pay for the damage back in September. However, Samsung filed a lawsuit later in the month citing property damage and defamation, while LG on its part, countersued and complained of evidence tampering.

LG also went public releasing a video, showing edited surveillance footage of the September incident. In the nine-minute video Jo and other LG employees are seen inspecting the appliances in plain sight of uniformed Samsung personnel hired for the event.

According to Jo's lawyer Ham Yoon-keun there was not enough evidence to warrant a conviction. In a statement, he said, it was questionable whether there was sufficient evidence to prove that the president of a global company deliberately destroyed the machines where employees of the competing company were present.