Goldman code theft case starts

City A.M. Reporter
A FORMER Goldman Sachs computer programmer charged with theft of a valuable speed-trading code did not, and could not, harm Wall Street’s most influential bank, his lawyer told a jury yesterday.

But a federal prosecutor told jurors Sergey Aleynikov stole critical parts of Goldman’s top-secret high-frequency trading programme because he would earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more using the code at another company.

Aleynikov, 40, is on trial in US District Court in Manhattan on charges of trade secrets theft, accused of uploading Goldman’s proprietary code and storing it on a website. Prosecutors say he planned to use the code to help his new employer, Teza Technologies in Chicago, build a high-frequency trading system.

“I predict you will not hear one word of evidence that Sergey Aleynikov had any intention to harm Goldman Sachs in any way, shape or form,” defence lawyer Kevin Marino told the 12 jurors and five alternates in opening statements. “Nor could he have interfered with Goldman’s right to the code.”

High-frequency trading, or high-speed automated trading, has become an increasingly important and competitive business. The closely-guarded computer codes help firms trade shares in milliseconds and earn millions of dollars.

US prosecutors had asked Judge Denise Cote to close parts of the trial to protect Goldman’s trade secrets, but she said she would consider the issues as they came up.

Marino said in his opening statement that Aleynikov told the FBI after his July 2009 arrest he had copied Goldman directories that were loaded with “open source” code.