Second Ex-Citadel Worker Pleads Guilty in Trade-Secrets Case

(Bloomberg) — A formerCitadelLLC employee whose job was to research and develop high-frequency trading strategies pleaded guilty to obstructing a probe into the theft of trade secrets from the Chicago-based investment firm.

Sahil Uppal, 26, entered his plea today before U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle in Chicago, five days after co- defendant Yihao Pu pleaded guilty to taking proprietary information fromCitadeland to stealing computer code from a New Jersey company. Their trial had been set for Sept. 2.

Led by founder Kenneth C. Griffin,Citadelmanages more than $20 billion in assets, according to its website.

Pu and Uppal joined Griffins firm four months apart in 2010 after working for a Red Bank, New Jersey, investment technologies business, according to an April 2013 indictment.

Each signed a non-disclosure agreement, pledging not to use Citadels confidential information for anyone elses benefit including their own.

By the time he arrived atCitadel, Pu, 26, had already taken proprietary computer code from the New Jersey firm, he confessed in court last week. The firm wasnt identified in court filings. Uppal today admitted hed written three computer scripts for quantitative trading forCitadeland transferred them to a computer accessible by him and Pu, without the firms permission.

Equipment Removed

In August 2011,Citadelrepresentatives confronted Pu with their suspicions that he had taken confidential information and told him to return anything he had. Uppal and an unidentified person later removed computer equipment from Pus apartment, including hard drives containing the firms confidential information, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Jenkins told Norgle today, reading from a plea agreement.

After telling Uppal he faced as long as 20 years in prison and a top fine of $250,000, Norgle asked, What have you decided to do?

I have decided to plead guilty, Uppal said.

Sentencing for both men is set for Nov. 7.

Uppals attorney, Daniel Collins, declined to comment after todays hearing. Katie Spring, a spokeswoman forCitadel, had no immediate comment on Uppals plea.

Pu was first charged in 2011. A later 13-count indictment was revised in 2013 to add charges against him and introduce seven against Uppal, including six for wire fraud.

Pu, who faced more than 20 counts including wire fraud, theft of trade secrets, computer fraud and obstruction, pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing trade secrets, each of which is punishable by as long as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case is U.S. v. Pu, 11-cr-00699, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).