Credit Suisse Says VP Stole Secrets
MANHATTAN (CN) - An assistant vice president at Credit Suisse Securities stole hundreds of proprietary files he "intends to use ... for his own benefit" and to retaliate against the bank for firing him, Credit Suisse claims in court.
Credit Suisse Securities sued Shifeng Lu on Aug. 13 in New York State Supreme Court. The bank asks the court to compel Lu, a former vice president of its IT department, to return the files.
At times, the 14-page complaint takes on aspects of a Keystone Kops comedy, as Lu allegedly claims not to have any more files, then others turn up, again and again.
Shifeng "Kevin" Lu was a trusted employee whose salary rose to six figures between his being hired in January 2012 and fired on June 2, 2014, according to the lawsuit.
During that he served as assistant vice president in Credit Suisse's Prime Services Risk and Margin IT group in the New York office of Credit Suisse's Investment Banking IT division, and was also a consultant providing services to Credit Suisse's Prime Services Margin IT business.
In these positions, his responsibilities included overseeing software development and provision of technology support services to Credit Suisse operations personnel and investment advisers.
And it was in these positions, Credit Suisse says, that Lu was able to remove substantial amounts of its confidential software and install it in his home computers.
The bank claims it learned of these activities in May 2014, when, through its electronic data loss prevention tool, it "discovered that Lu sent several emails from his Credit Suisse email account to his personal Yahoo! email account containing Credit Suisse's proprietary computer code."
"These emails attached documents that are highly sensitive and contained confidential and proprietary information related to Credit Suisse and its valuable computer source code files (the 'Credit Suisse Information'); they were sent in blatant violation of Credit Suisse's employee policies regarding confidential and proprietary information security and constituted a violation of Lu's legal and contractual obligations with Credit Suisse," according to the complaint.
During the meeting at which he was fired, the bank says, Lu signed a Forensic Review Agreement (the 'FRA'), which authorized a third party digital forensic investigator, Stroz Friedberg, to conduct on-site examinations of Lu's electronic devices that could have stored Credit Suisse Information.
Lu also signed a letter acknowledging he'd made off with proprietary files on multiple occasions, but swore he no longer had them in his possession, according to the complaint.
"Notwithstanding Lu's sworn statements, Stroz determined from its initial review that Lu had downloaded a folder captioned 'New' from his personal computer to an unauthorized external USB device, and that this folder contained several additional programming code files containing Credit Suisse Information," Credit Suisse says.
The bank claims that the more that Stroz looked for files on Lu's personal devices and email accounts, the more he found.
"In addition, Stroz detected that Lu had transferred data from his personal computer to a USB device hours before Stroz was scheduled to arrive at his home and then deleted the data from his computer, despite Lu having agreed with Stroz neither to transfer nor delete any data during the investigation. Lu also failed to turn over the files Stroz had discovered were downloaded to an external hard drive," the complaint states.
Confronted with these findings, Lu admitted he had transferred of files, the bank says. But he failed to sign and return a second affidavit swearing he'd returned everything he had had taken. This led to additional forensic searches for files on the computers in his home, according to the lawsuit.
Stroz then analyzed not only Lu's computers, but those supposedly belonging to his wife and son.
"Upon conducting this search, Stroz discovered not only the missing files (which Lu had sworn under oath, days before, he no longer possessed) but hundreds of additional Credit Suisse files, many of which contained Credit Suisse proprietary data and/or computer code. These files were discovered on the computer that Lu had claimed was only used by his son," the lawsuit states.
It continues: "In fact, at one point during Stroz's review, Lu reached over the shoulder of the investigator seated at the computer Lu said belonged to his son and attempted to hide the Credit Suisse files on the spot.
"Following this investigation, Stroz conducted a comprehensive analysis of the data from Lu's devices to which he gave access in order to identify and remove any and all Credit Suisse Information. During this review, Stroz discovered hundreds of additional files of Credit Suisse Information, including proprietary computer code and other valuable Credit Suisse Information stolen as far back as 2009."
In addition to the trove it managed to recover, Credit Suisse says, it has "no doubt that Lu has retained additional Credit Suisse Information."
The bank says that it fears that "Lu intends to use confidential Credit Suisse Information for his own benefit and to retaliate against Credit Suisse for his termination."
Credit Suisse says that in the absence of the relief it is seeking, "Lu's improper conduct will lead to irreparable harm and damage to Credit Suisse's business and goodwill for which there is no adequate remedy at law. Lu's wrongful acts, if allowed to continue, will seriously compromise years of substantial investment and effort by Credit Suisse in competitive advantage in the market and the goodwill and relationships cultivated with its clients."
It wants its files back, and call copies of them, by a date certain, and wants Lu ordered not to use any of the information in them, and damages for breach of contract.
The investment bank is represented by Stephen Kramarsky with Dewey, Pegno & Kramarsky.