This month is not starting very well for technology enthusiasts. Most of us have fond memories of Zalman, a company that has been producing advanced cooling solutions since 1999. Some are old enough to remember the fan-like CNPS6000 Socket 370 coolers and the first Reserator liquid cooling kits. Zalman was one of the pioneers of low-noise cooling solutions, in an era when stock coolers were noisy enough to drive people insane. Unfortunately for us all, on November 3, 2014 the company filed a bankruptcy protection request in the Seoul Central District Court.

Zalman did not fall victim to recession, competition or even bad corporate management. The whole story is long, complicated, obscure and yet unconfirmed, so unfortunately we may never learn all the details of it. To summarize, Zalman apparently was part of an allegedly very well designed and planned multi-billion dollar corporate fraud.

Zalman is a child company of the robotics manufacturer Moneual. According to The Korea Times, Moneual failed to repay their (massive) export bonds that matured on October 20, 2014, and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Ever since that incident, Zalman's stock price also began a quick downfall. However, the numbers just do not add up - Moneual has been repeatedly reporting major profits, with their 2013 annual report being nearly 1.2 billion dollars in sales and over 100 million dollars in profit. The local authorities naturally became very suspicious and initiated investigations, the preliminary reports of which indicate that there is evidence of a well-designed corporate fraud.

Long story short, Moneual allegedly acquired Zalman in 2011 as part of their master plan. They forged Zalman's export and accounting documents, greatly overstating their export and income reports, in order to become eligible for huge bank loans. What is even more interesting is an article posted by the Korea JoongAng Daily, where an employee claims that most of the employees knew that the company was a sham but, despite the unearthly profit reports of the past few years, no government officials raised an eyebrow.

During that time, Moneual received about 620 million dollars in loans from several Korean banks and another 275 million dollars as export credit from the Korea Trade Insurance Corp, making the owners of Moneual richer by nearly 900 million dollars, money that will likely never be repaid. They have been arrested and, alongside many top- and mid-level executives of the company, are now facing prison time. Unfortunately, the architects of this fraud may not receive what punishment they deserve; the CEO of Moneual has U.S. citizenship and his brother has Canadian, and there's some concerns that Korean law could face trouble prosecuting them.

Unfortunately, we have little confirmed information on the matter but, from the looks of it, no one from Zalman was involved in this fraud. Depending on the court's decision, there is the possibility that Zalman will be granted bankruptcy protection and severed from Moneual's control. However, even if that happens, Zalman will certainly not have the capabilities they used to and will most certainly struggle to compete on a global scale.  

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  • JeffFlanagan - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    This is likely to result in a lot of products no longer being available. A Zalman search on Amazon turns up 43 pages of interesting products. An article on non-Zalman alternatives would be very welcome.
  • A5 - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    I'm not sure they've put out anything new that was worth a mention in several years. The alternatives in the high-end air cooler market are the usual names, Noctua, Thermalright, etc.
  • Minion4Hire - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    An OS-independent encrypted external drive that can present ISO files as a virtual disc, again independent of an OS. I have the (older) unencrypted model. It's pretty spiffy.
  • BedfordTim - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    We have several of them and they are a godsend. 50+ CDs in your will fit in your pocket, and access times are better as well.
  • Murloc - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    useful how?

    It must be extremely niche because most people manage just fine with daemon tools o burning the ISO on a CD.
    Might be a cool concept but that's it.
  • Stahn Aileron - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    If you're in the field and don't have a burner handy (recall that ODD usage is in a decline in this age of download-on-demand digital distribution), having a portable HDD that can mimic an ODD and containing up to dozens of ISO's can be a godsend. Heck, maybe you even ran out of blank discs and your next shipment hasn't come in yet and you can't just leave to pick some up at a local store. Besides, I wouldn't want to burn a disc every time a new ISO release comes out for something. Easier to just replace the ISO on a portable HDD.

    That Zalman ODD-emulating portable HDD is a godsend for field techs.
  • HillBeast - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    I'm sure there's an app for Android for rooted devices that does this.
  • Bob Todd - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    While DriveDroid is pretty neat, I can't imagine dealing with a bunch of several GB ISO images on my phone. Just the transfer times would be absurdly frustrating. It's a cool option for a few small rescue type images though.
  • Bob Todd - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    Also, most kernels don't support presenting the ISO as an ODD (without kernel patches), which makes it less useful.
  • Bob Todd - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    I can see the value. Every bootable ISO you ever need on one drive, whether they are Linux or DOS or WinPE based. There are utilities to combine a bunch of bootable ISOs on a usb drive, but this could theoretically be simpler (and most of those utilities seem to be one type or another, e.g. Linux or Windows based ISOs on one drive).

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