(Reuters) - A Ukrainian computer hacker was sentenced on Monday to 2-1/2 years in prison over his role in a global scheme to conduct insider trading based on stolen, yet-to-be-published corporate news releases, U.S. prosecutors said.
Vadym Iermolovych, 29, of Kiev, had been the first hacker to admit criminal wrongdoing, in what authorities have called the largest known hacking scheme to game financial markets, leading to more than $100 million of legal profit.
Iermolovych was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark, New Jersey, one year after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and aggravated identity theft.
The defendant’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Authorities said the illegal scheme involved the theft of 150,000 news releases from Business Wire, Marketwired and PR Newswire between February 2010 and August 2015.
Traders, including many with Russian ties, would give hackers “shopping lists” of releases they wanted, and traded in companies such as Caterpillar Inc, Home Depot Co and Panera Bread Co, authorities said.
Ten defendants, including three hackers and seven traders, have been criminally charged in New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York, and five have pleaded guilty.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought related civil charges against more than 40 defendants.
Business Wire is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Marketwired by Nasdaq Inc, and PR Newswire by Cision Inc. None were accused of wrongdoing.
The case is U.S. v. Iermolovych, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 16-cr-00235.
(This version of the story corrects paragraph two to show Iermolovych was the first hacker, not the first defendant, to plead guilty in the case)
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay