Taiwanese Foxconn manager caught stealing 'thousands' of smartphones

TAIPEI (AFP) - A senior manager at Taiwan's technology giant Foxconn has admitted stealing thousands of smartphones, prosecutors said on Friday, in a racket that reportedly made over NT$24 million (S$1 million).

Foxconn is the world's largest contract electronics maker and assembles products for international brands such as Apple, Sony and Nokia. It employs about one million workers at its factories across China.

The Taiwanese deputy sales manager worked at the company's factory in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, which assembles products such as Apple's iPhone 6.

Prosecutors said "thousands" of phones were stolen in the scam, which they believe involved a network of accomplices.

Local media reported that 4,000 smartphones including the iPhone 6 had gone missing and were sold on in China for around NT$24 million.

"He admitted to stealing smartphones from a Foxconn factory in China last year during questioning yesterday," prosecutors told AFP.

"We suspect that he has accomplices in China and may request judicial assistance from Chinese authorities for further investigation," a spokeswoman for the New Taipei district prosecutor's office said.

Foxconn reported the case to the authorities following an internal audit, she added.

Last year, five former Foxconn employees were charged with breach of trust in Taiwan for allegedly soliciting NT$160 million in kickbacks from suppliers in exchange for clearing quality checks and buying their equipment.

Foxconn said at the time that it planned to seek compensation from the suppliers involved in the case and called for the accused to be "severely punished according to the law".

The company has also come under the spotlight over labour unrest, a spate of employee suicides and the use of underage interns at its Chinese plants in recent years.

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