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Engineer pleads guilty to stealing CME Group software

Updated: September 20, 2012 10:56AM

A north suburban man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to stealing CME Group software in an attempt to create a similar product in China.

Chunlai Yang, 49, of Libertyville, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of trade secrets and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Yang, a former senior software engineer for Chicago-based CME Group Inc., admitted he downloaded more than 10,000 computer source code files that made up a substantial part of the Globex operating system while pursuing plans to improve an electronic trading exchange in China, a release from federal prosecutors said.

Yang began working for CME Group in 2000 and was responsible for writing computer code. He had access to the software that supported the trading platform, which allowed participants to buy and sell CME products from anywhere.

Between late 2010 and June 30, 2011, he downloaded files from a secure internal computer system to his work computer, then transferred many of them to USB flash drives and uploaded them to personal computers and hard drives at home.

Yang also printed numerous CME internal manuals describing how Globex operates, the release said. He admitted to having two unnamed business partners trying to increase trading volume in China.

The government claims the potential loss was $50 million to $100 million, but Yang claims it was less than $55.7 million.

Yang, freed on a $500,000 secured bond after his July 1, 2011, arrest, will be sentenced Feb. 20, 2013 by U.S. District Judge John Darrah.

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