Ex-Goldman Sachs Employee Found Guilty of Stealing Code for High-Frequency Trading Activity

A New York jury has found ex-Goldman Sachs & Co. computer programmer Sergey Aleynikov guilty of one count of transportation of stolen property in interstate and foreign commerce and one count of trade-secret theft. Aleynikov is accused of stealing a specialized computer source code used in high-frequency trading activity from the investment bank.

Aleynikov, who worked for Goldman for two years, allegedly transferred “hundreds of thousands” of source-code lines and took the broker-dealer’s source code with him to Chicago, where he went to work with Teza Technologies LLC, a firm that wanted to compete with Goldman’s high-frequency trading operations. Although Aleynikov admitted to uploading parts of the investment bank’s trading codes, he told the FBI that he hadn’t intend to steal Goldman’s proprietary data.

Per the indictment, Goldman had implemented a number of precautions to protect its proprietary source code, including mandating that workers sign confidentiality agreements and requiring employees to “irrevocably assign to Goldman Sachs” the rights to any discoveries invention, ideas, concepts, or information developed while employed by the brokerage firm.

High-Frequency Trading
High-frequency trading is a trading strategy using sophisticated programs that involve the employment of algorithms that can place a series of sell and buy orders for large blocks of stock at a super fast pace while exploiting tiny price discrepancies. This type of trading has become a key source of revenue for hedge funds and investment firms on Wall Street.

In 2009, high-frequency trading was responsible for about $300 million in revenue for Goldman. This is less than 1% of the broker-dealers $45 billion in revenue.

Related Web Resources:
United States v. Aleynikov, Indictment (PDF)

Former Goldman Programmer Found Guilty of Code Theft, NY Times, December 10, 2010

Former Goldman Sachs Programmer Found Guilty After Stealing Computer Code, Security Week, December 14, 2010

Goldman Sachs, Stockbroker Fraud Blog

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