SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) has accused the head of rival LG Electronics Inc’s (066570.KS) home appliances business of damaging Samsung washing machines at retail stores in Germany and asked Seoul prosecutors to investigate.
Samsung, in a statement on Sunday, said it asked the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to investigate LG employees who the company says were seen deliberately destroying several of its premium washing machines on display at two stores earlier this month ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin.
“It is very unfortunate that Samsung had to request that a high-ranking executive be investigated by the nation’s legal authorities, but this was inevitable, as we concluded that we had to get to the bottom of this incident,” Samsung said.
LG denied Samsung’s claim and said the executives inadvertently damaged the doors of two washing machines in one store because the model in question had weak hinges.
An LG spokeswoman told Reuters that Jo Seong-jin, head of the company’s home appliances division, was one of the people named in Samsung’s investigation request.
Officials in the prosecutors’ office could not be reached on Sunday.
The dispute is the latest between the two South Korean arch-rivals, which compete across a wide range of products including smartphones, televisions and home appliances. Previous disputes included a conflict over refrigerator capacity and claims over South Korean air conditioner market share.
LG says that it is the world’s largest maker of washing machines, followed by Samsung.
German police had questioned LG officials following the incident, LG said.
Both companies showed off competing gadgets and home appliances during the IFA trade show.
LG said the incidents occurred as the executives had sought to examine products made by Samsung and other rivals.
It said its employees agreed to pay for four damaged Samsung washing machines at one store in accordance with mediation efforts by German police, though it says it was only responsible for two of the damaged products.
“We hope that this is not an attempt to damage our reputation,” LG said in a statement, adding that it will cooperate with prosecutors on the investigation.
Reporting by Se Young Lee and Narae Kim; Editing by Tony Munroe & Kim Coghill