US authorities have charged a computer programmer with stealing proprietary software code from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he was working as a contractor.
Bo Zhang, who worked for an unidentified firm, was contracted between May and August last year to work at the New York Fed on the source code for the Government-Wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA), a software system that is owned by the US Department of the Treasury.
The GWA, which the US has spent around $9.5 million developing, is mainly used to help keep track of government finances, handling ledger accounting for each appropriation, fund, and receipt within the Treasury.
According to authorities, Zhang has admitted that in July, while working at the Fed, he checked out and copied the GWA code onto his hard drive before transferring it to both his private office and home PCs as well as a laptop. He has since stated that he used the code in connection with a private business he ran training people in computer programming.
Janice Fedarcyk, FBI assistant director in charge, says: "Zhang took advantage of the access that came with his trusted position to steal highly sensitive proprietary software. His intentions with regard to that software are immaterial. Stealing it and copying it threatened the security of vitally important source code."
Zhang - who has been released on a $200,000 bond - faces up to 10 years in prison and substantial fines if found guilty.