Ex-Goldman Programmer Guilty In High-Frequency Code Theft

Dec 13 2010 | 3:30am ET

A former Goldman Sachs programmer has been convicted of stealing the firm’s high-frequency trading software in the days before he left to join a controversial firm founded by two former Citadel Investment Group executives.

A Manhattan jury found Sergey Aleynikov guilty of theft of trade secrets and transporting stolen property after two days of deliberations. He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 18.

Prosecutors accused Aleynikov of copying large portions of Goldman’s high-frequency code—it was found on three computers at his New Jersey apartment, the Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who searched the residence testified. Aleynikov left Goldman to join Teza Technologies, itself the subject of court proceedings when Citadel sued it, accusing founders Mikhail Malyshev and Jace Kohlmeier of violating their non-compete agreements with the hedge fund giant.

Aleynikov’s lawyers said that the code taken was open-source and publicly available.

“As today's guilty verdict demonstrates, we will use the full force of the federal law to prosecute those who steal valuable and proprietary information from their employers, whether those firms are on Wall Street or Main Street,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “The brazen theft of intellectual property by Sergey Aleynikov had the potential to cause serious harm to the company, and now he will pay for his crimes.”

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ordered Aleynikov, who has been free on bail since his arrest last summer, held in home confinement. She also asked that the Russian native be placed on a watch list to keep him from leaving the country.

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