The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that a 49-year old suburban Chicago resident, who was employed as a senior software engineer with the Chicago-based CME Group, remains in federal custody today after being charged with theft of trade secrets.
Chunlai Yang, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was taken into custody Friday morning at his CME office, 550 W. Washington St., Chicago, without incident, by FBI special agents. Yang was charged in a criminal complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count of Theft of Trade Secrets, a felony offense.
According to the complaint, Yang has been employed at the CME since 2000, and is responsible for writing computer code. Beginning in May this year, CME security personnel began monitoring Yang’s computer activity. They discovered that thousands of files had been downloaded to his computer, and some were then copied to removable storage devices, such as “thumb drives.” Many of the downloaded files were critical to the operation of the CME Group and are considered proprietary in nature and contain protected source code.
Subsequent investigation by the FBI determined that Yang had also been in email contact with the assistant director of the Logistics and Trade Bureau for the Zhangiagang Free Trade Zone (their website here:http://www.zjgftz.gov.cn/zjgftz/english/wlmyj/moreinfo.aspx?categoryNum=120203) . One of the emails sent by Yang contained an attachment, which was a CME document containing protected source code and proprietary information.
It was also determined that Yang had booked travel to China on a commercial airline flight, scheduled to depart from O’Hare International Airport July 7.
Yang appeared before Magistrate Judge Michael Mason in Chicago, late Friday, at which time he was formally charged.
Yang was ordered held without bond, pending his next court appearance, which is scheduled for July 6. Until then, Yang will be housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. If convicted of the charge pending against him, Yang faces a possible sentence of up to 10 years incarceration, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.