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Citadel researcher admits covering up theft of trade secrets

Updated: September 14, 2014 6:34AM

A young hedge fund researcher who helped cover up the theft of trade secrets from his employer faces up to 20 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to obstruction of justice.

Sonny Uppal, 26, admitted he copied computer files owned by Citadel LLC, the hedge fund and financial services firm founded by billionaire Ken Griffin, reputedly Illinois’ richest man.

Fellow Citadel employee Yihao Pu — who agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors last week — previously admitted he illegally downloaded information about algorithms Citadel developed for use in high frequency trading.

When he learned in 2011 that his bosses had questioned Pu, Uppal stashed computer hard drives, computer cables, and monitors into a suitcase and carried them from Pu’s apartment into his car, he admitted Tuesday to U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle.

Some of the equipment was later recovered by divers from a canal near Wilmette Harbor, the feds say.

Uppal declined to comment as he left court.

Both Uppal and Pu — who faces up to 10 years — are due to be sentenced in November.


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