Naturalized citizen arrested for trade secret theft

July 5, 2011 -- A 49-year old Libertyville resident, who was employed as a senior software engineer with the Chicago based CME Group, was arrested yesterday after being charged with theft of trade secrets. The arrest was announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Chunlai Yang, who is a naturalized United States citizen, was taken into custody yesterday morning at his CME office, located at 550 West Washington Street in Chicago, without incident, by FBI special agents. Yang was charged in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count of Theft of Trade Secrets, which is 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 of 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 e-mail contact with the assistant director of the Logistics and Trade Bureau for the Zhangiagang Free Trade Zone. One of the e-mails 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 on July 7th.

Yang appeared before Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason in Chicago, late yesterday, at which time he was formally charged. Yang was ordered held without bond, pending his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Wednesday, July 6th. Until then, Yang will be housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago. If convicted of the charge pending against him, Yang faces a possible sentence of up to ten (10) years’ incarceration, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.