Automated trading algorithms stolen

Posted: 29th March 2017

Stock MarketAn atmosphere of trust is vital to any workplace but the ease with which confidential material can be downloaded means that sensible employers need to guard against the enemy within. In one striking case, financial analyst, Ke Xu, was jailed after stealing valuable algorithms from his employer, Trenchant, with a view to personal gain.

The algorithms were used in automated trading to predict stock market movements and had a substantial open market value. After taking them, the 33 year old, who had a first-class degree and an exceptional intellect, left his job and flew to Hong Kong, where he hoped to use them to land a contract with another firm.

After his deceit was uncovered, he pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment by Judge Tomlinson. He was also issued with a serious crime prevention order that required him to hand over any copies of the stolen algorithms and reveal the identities of anyone who had had access to them.

He subsequently received a further 18-month jail term after his former employer launched a private prosecution against him for breaching that order. The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal rejected his challenge to that sentence. The Court noted that he had consented to the order being made and there was no suggestion that he had not understood its terms.