Taiwan’s TSMC fires employee accused of selling secrets by FBI


TAIPEI — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chip-maker, said yesterday that it has fired an employee of its subsidiary in North America who was arrested the previous day in the United States for alleged insider trading.

TSMC said it will provide necessary assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting an investigation into the insider trading allegations.

Along with four others, Manosha Karunatilaka, a former technical account manager of TSMC North America, is accused of selling business secrets when he worked as a consultant to Primary Global Research, an expert networking company.

TSMC said that as Karunatilaka’s conduct has violated the company’s internal rules related to business secret protection, TSMC North America fired him when he was arrested Dec. 16.

The five men — a sales manager at Primary Global and four consultants of the company — were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to provide confidential information to Primary Global Research customers between 2008 and early 2010, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

An expert networking company hires analysts to provide investors with insightful information, and the charges reveal the relationships among Primary Global Research, its technology analysts and the investors who pay for the information.

According to the FBI, the more-than US$400,000 Primary Global Research paid its consultants in this case, who only participated in phone conversations with clients, is an indication of the value of the information.

TSMC said the company is considering taking appropriate legal action related to the allegations but declined to comment further.