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Programmer charged with stealing Wall Street-ware

Code worth 'many millions'

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A former Goldman Sachs software designer has been arrested and charged with stealing proprietary software used for the firm's high-speed trading platform.

Sergey Aleynikov, a naturalized US citizen who emigrated from Russia, was arrested on Friday night as he arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport and charged with trade-secret theft. On four occasions since June 1, the 39-year-old programmer downloaded a total of 32 megabytes of data from Goldman Sachs servers in New Jersey, according documents filed in federal court in Manhattan.

The allegedly pilfered software used "sophisticated mathematical formulas to place automated trades in the market," the documents alleged. Such trades typically generate "many millions of dollars." The documents didn't identify Aleynikov's former employer, but during a court hearing on Saturday, prosecutors revealed it was Goldman Sachs.

Aleynikov is being held in jail in Manhattan in lieu of $750,000 bail. Prosecutors allege that his work desktop was used at least four times after hours to transfer the company data to a website located in Germany. The programmer, who earned $400,000 per year, resigned from the job on June 5 to take a job at a Chicago-based company that also intended to engage in high-volume, automated trading, prosecutors said.

After he was taken into custody, Aleynikov told authorities he downloaded files from a Goldman Sachs server but claimed he intended to access only open source code. He later realized he obtained more files than previously intended, he said, although he didn't distribute any proprietary software, he said.

More coverage is here and here. ®

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