July 6 (Bloomberg) -- A CME Group Inc. employee was charged by the U.S. with stealing trade secrets from the world’s largest futures exchange for a Chinese start-up company in which he was to hold a financial stake.
Chunlai Yang, 49, of Libertyville, Illinois, has been in federal custody since his July 1 arrest on a single theft-of- trade-secrets count, punishable by as long as 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. He appeared for a detention hearing today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason in Chicago. The hearing is scheduled to continue on July 8.
Yang, a software engineer, has worked at CME since 2000, the FBI said in a July 1 statement. In May, exchange security personnel began monitoring his computer activity.
“They discovered that thousands of files had been downloaded to his computer and some were then copied to removable storage devices,” including files that were “critical to the operation of the CME Group,” according to the FBI.
Yang had planned to board a China-bound flight tomorrow from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the FBI said.
With an investment of $118,182, Yang was to be one of three shareholders of a Hong Kong-incorporated business called East China Technology Innovation Park Co., the FBI said in an affidavit filed in court.
“CME Group places a high value on protecting its intellectual property and trade secrets,” the exchange said today in an e-mailed statement. “As soon as the company became aware of and confirmed the suspicious activities of one of its employees, CME Group cooperated with law enforcement authorities and moved to terminate the individual’s employment.”
The exchange hasn’t found any evidence that customer, trading or regulatory data had been compromised, it said.
Christopher Graul, a lawyer for Yang, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment.
The case is U.S. v. Yang, 11-cr-00458, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).
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