The software keeps track of money exchanged between US government agencies, and its development cost nearly $10 millions. Bo Zhang, a Chinese national legally employed with an unnamed US third-party contractor, had access to the Government-wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA) when he was working at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
He admitted to the FBI that he took advantage of that access to copy the software to a external hard disk and bring it home, where he installed it on a number of his personal computers. He allegedly appropriated the code so that it 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.
According to the NYT, the Federal Reserve Bank discovered the theft only after a colleague of Zhang's shared with a supervisor that Zhang had complained of losing the hard drive containing the code.
The bank contacted the FBI and an investigation was mounted, which resulted in Zhang's arrest. So far, the FBI has failed to indicate whether they believed that the theft was executed with industrial espionage in mind, and has not shared whether the lost hard drive has been found.
Zhang has been released on bail. If convicted, he could receive a 10-year-long prison sentence and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000.