Former CME Group Programmer Pleads Guilty to Data Theft


Chunlai Yang, a former CME Group software engineer, pleaded guilty this week to stealing source code and other proprietary data from the company.

"Yang, 49, of Libertyville, worked for 11 years at CME, which is the world's largest futures exchange," writes The Chicago Tribune's Ameet Sachdev. "He was arrested July 1, 2011, and charged with theft of corporate trade secrets."

"Yang, who had a PhD in physics and started working for CME in 2000, wrote computer code for the company and had access to the company's proprietary software for its global trading platform," writes Reuters' Terry Baynes. "Between late 2010 and June 2011, he used USB drives to transfer company files containing source code to his personal hard drives, the U.S. Attorney said in a statement."

"Prosecutors said Yang intended to use the stolen information to improve an electronic-trading exchange in Zhangjiagang, China, and that he was plotting with two other, unnamed business partners," writes Bloomberg's Andrew Harris.

"Yang admitted that he downloaded more than 10,000 files containing CME computer source code that made up a substantial part of the operating systems for the Globex electronic trading platform," Help Net Security reports. "The government maintains that the potential loss was between $50 million and $100 million, while Yang maintains that the potential loss was less than $55.7 million."

"This case and similar prosecutions demonstrate that law enforcement and corporations can work together to protect trade secrets," Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the North District of Illinois, said in a statement [PDF file]. "CME Group reported this matter to federal authorities and fully cooperated with the investigation. Trade secret theft is a serious economic crime that affects the interests of corporations, as well as our national interest, in protecting intellectual property."