Programmer pleads guilty to US govt software source code theft

A Chinese computer programmer that was charged with stealing the source code of software developed by the US Treasury Department pleaded guilty to the charge on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old Bo Zhang, legally employed by a US consulting firm contracted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, admitted that he took advantage of the access he had to the Government-wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA) in order to copy the code onto an external hard disk and take it home.

He said to the FBI that he did so that the code would be available to him in the event of losing his job, and to use it for his private business, which is teaching computer programming.

The software in question keeps track of money exchanged between US government agencies and, according to the authorities, its development cost nearly $10 millions.

Zhang also pleaded guilty to one charge of immigration fraud.

Due to be sentenced in October, Zhang has been released on bail until then. Given that he has cooperated with the prosecution, the federal prosecutors didn’t ask the court to award the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, but recommended he be incarcerated for 1.5 years.

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