Three Chinese stock traders were ordered to pay $8.9 million in fines and penalties for hacking into two law firms and stealing information on upcoming mergers and acquisitions and then leveraging the information to trade stocks.
A federal court in New York ordered Iat Hong, Bo Zheng, and Hung Chin to pay fines, as well as Hong's mother Sou Cheng Lai who held a bank account where the proceeds from the stock sales were kept, according to a copy of the judgment posted by SC Media.
The three hackers installed malware on the law firms' computer networks, enabling them to view emails on mergers and acquisitions in which the firms were involved. With the information, the attackers purchased stock in at least three public companies prior to their merger announcements, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which filed the lawsuit against the hackers.
The hackers shelled out roughly $7.5 million within a month's time to buy shares in Altera prior to its 2015 acquisition by Intel. The defendants also snapped up shares in Borderfree before its 2015 buyout by Pitney Bowes, and also acquired shares in InterMune before its 2014 merger deal with Roche, according to the SEC. With these transactions, the trio racked up nearly $3 million in illegal profits, the SEC stated.
Read more about the court judgment here.