Theft of Trade Secrets for Potential Use in China
On Sep. 19, 2012, Chunlai Yang, a former senior software engineer for Chicago-based CME Group, Inc., pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Illinois to two counts of theft of trade secrets for stealing source code and other proprietary information while at the same time pursuing plans to improve an electronic trading exchange in China. 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. The government maintains that the potential loss was between $50 million and $100 million. Yang began working for CME Group in 2000 and was a senior software engineer at the time of his arrest. Between late 2010, and Jun. 30, 2011, Yang downloaded more than 10,000 computer files containing CME computer source code from CME’s secure internal computer system to his CME-issued work computer. He then transferred many of these files from his work computer to his personal USB flash drives, and then transferred many of these files from his flash drives to his personal computers and hard drives at his home. Yang also admitted that he downloaded thousands of others CME files. Yang admitted that he and two unnamed business partners developed plans to form a business referred to as the Tongmei (Gateway to America) Futures Exchange Software Technology Company (Gateway), whose purpose was to increase the trading volume at the Zhangjiagang, China, chemical electronic trading exchange (the Zhangjiagang Exchange.) The Zhangjiagang Exchange was to become a transfer station to China for advanced technologies companies around the world. Yang expected that Gateway would provide the exchange with technology through written source code to allow for high trading volume, high trading speeds, and multiple trading functions. Yang was indicted on Sep. 28, 2011. This investigation was conducted by the FBI.