It’s been a really tough year for CPU cooler designer Zalman. The company recently got dragged through the mud by its parent company Moneual, which was hauled before South Korean courts and the government to answer to allegations of corruption and fraud amounting to $3 billion USD (approx. R45 billion) committed over the course of seven years. There were fears that Zalman would go under as a result of Moneual’s illegal activities, but the company later annouced that they were being split off from Moneual and restructuring in a bid to survive the fallout. Now Zalman is ready to get back into the swing of things in 2016, and has announced that they’ll be showing off brand new products early next year, possibly at CES 2016.
What transpired with Moneual reads a bit like a Netflix original series that might cast Kevin Spacey as the protagonist/villian. The company falsified trade reports, overstated sales and profits, and created bogus customers for their products, all to secure more and more loans from banks in South Korea. They used the funds to absorb other companies that had growth potential, like Zalman, and kept on cooking the books in order to secure government loans, which led them further along the path of no return. None of this would have been discovered if Zalman had not defaulted on a loan repayment, which amounted to the $3 billion figure initially reported. Moneual’s CEO, Park Hong-seok, was found guilty on fraud charges by South Korean courts, and was sentenced to 23 years in prison, along with a fine of $84,000.
What little remains of Moneual is only the parts of the company producing home improvement equipment and oddities like programmable robotic vacuum cleaners. It has little presence in the US and Europe, and is only really operational in China, its home base. Zalman was split off into its own company, and underwent a restructuring phase, retrenching 100 staff and cutting down the volumes of products it designed and produced significantly during this period. In a recent interview with Tom’s Hardware, Zalman technical marketing specialist Michael Park took readers through a glimpse of what happened during the fallout.
“Partnering manufacturers began to demand advance payment and were hesitant to supply the goods,” said Park, answering a question on how Zalman’s business reacted to the fraud charges. “Buyers throughout the world would delay the payments in fear of the future prospect, and product developments were significantly delayed. Consequently, there were shortages on the inventory, and sales sharply declined accordingly.”
“Since the downsizing, Zalman [has] reached out to the founding members and veteran engineers who made Zalman the household name for PC components. They are anxious to rekindle the innovation that Zalman is known for, and consumers can expect great products in the upcoming years. Currently, Zalman’s core business is to provide gaming-orientated coolers, chassis, PSUs, and peripherals for mainstream consumers seeking cost-effective solutions, and we are also pursuing industrial thermoelectric cooler modules for enterprise consumers,” Park added, speaking on behalf of the company.
Zalman’s schedule for 2016 looks rather busy. The company is expecting to release five new all-in-one liquid cooling CPU coolers, five new computer chassis that Zalman says “range from low-to-high tiers”, three new high-end ATX power supplies, six gaming keyboards, and five new gaming mice. The company still makes the curved fin coolers that made them famous all those years ago, and they’re still very effective at their job.