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Feds cuff programmer in alleged trading-ware theft

Say Chinese-born Chicago coder had flight booked

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Chunlai Yang, a 49-year old Chinese-born American, has been charged with stealing proprietary software code.

Yang worked for CME Group – which makes trading platforms for commodity derivative markets – as a programmer.

CME has been monitoring his computer use since May. He has worked for the company since 2000.

He appeared in court in Chicago for a detention hearing. He remains in custody until another hearing on Friday, the FT reports.

CME told the paper that many of the files Yang downloaded contained source code which, if handed to competitors, "could cause great economic damage".

Chang was arrested on 2 July at CME's Chicago offices in a raid led by Special Agent Robert D Grant of the Chicago offices of the FBI. He was charged with one count of theft of trade secrets.

According to the FBI, Yang had been in email contact with the assistant director of the Logistics and Trade Bureau for the Zhangjiagang Free Trade Zone. One message included an attachment containing proprietary code.

The Feds also claim Yang had booked a flight to China leaving on 7 July.

A spokesman for CME said: "CME Group places a high value on protecting its intellectual property and trade secrets. 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. As a result, the individual charged with theft of CME Group confidential information is no longer employed by CME Group.  he company has found no evidence that customer information, trading data or required regulatory information was compromised. In light of the pending law enforcement proceedings, CME Group has no further comment on this matter."

Yang faces fines of $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

The FBI statement is here. ®

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