Seoul: Prosecutors raided the headquarters of LG Electronics Inc. on Friday as part of a probe into whether the South Korean company had damaged the washing machines of rival Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd at retail stores in Germany, Yonhap news agency reported.

The raid comes amid an increasingly bitter rivalry between the two companies which compete in home appliances, TVs and smartphones, and ahead of the world’s biggest consumer electronics show at Las Vegas in January.

Samsung had asked the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to investigate LG employees who Samsung says were seen deliberately destroying several of its premium washing machines on display at two stores in September ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

On Friday, investigators searched the Seoul offices of LG Elec’s home appliance head and others and secured documents and computer hard disks related to the IFA fair, Yonhap said. They also combed through LG Electronics’ home appliance factory in the southeastern city of Changwon, the report said.

An LG Electronics spokeswoman declined to comment on the Yonhap report, while prosecutors were not immediately available for comments.

Samsung sued LG Electronics employees after the incident in Germany, and the LG spokeswoman said the company has counter-sued Samsung employees.

Media reports have earlier said prosecutors banned Jo Seong-jin, head of LG’s home appliances division, from leaving the country ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to be held 6-9 January. Reuters