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Goldman Sachs programmer with trade-secret theft July 6, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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Sergey Aleynikov, a former software designer for Goldman Sachs is charged with downloading propriety software from his former employer and sending secret codes to a web account in Germany.  However, what this German account was is  unknown.

The FBI alleges that the downloads contained a program that uses sophisticated mathematical formulas to place automated trades in the market.  An internal review by Goldman Sachs alleges that Aleynikov’s work desktop was used at least four times after hours between June 1 and June 5 to transfer company information.  

When arrested, Aleynikov reportedly told the FBI that he had copied and encrypted files from his former employer.  However, he said that he only intended to collected open source files on which he had worked.  He later realized he obtained more files than he intended.  He further claims that he abided by the confidentiality agreement he signed with Goldman Sachs and did not distribute any of the propriety software.

This is a very interesting case for a number of reasons.  It seems like this guy makes a good amount of money, but if he didn’t, I would probably reduce my fee to help him out because I find these cases a lot of fun.

This is also a fairly easy case as there are several “facts beyond change” that really help to narrow the issues in dispute.  With his statement, his actions are not at issue here.  Instead, only his intent will be at issue here which really makes this case ripe of jury nullification.

Do you really think that a jury is going to get upset that this guy copied some files and then, did nothing with them?  More importantly, I don’t have the law in front of me at the moment but I’m sure there is a criminal intent element here that the Government would need to prove.  I don’t see how they  could do it. 

Much of this case will turn on his statement.  The Government will need to try to support its case that he was going to profit from this information.  The Defense will need to show that he did nothing else with it.  Since nothing would just jump at out you, as a defense attorney, you need to get very creative to come up with as much evidence to tear apart the Government’s case.  Again, I find such cases a lot of fun as it really puts your skills as an attorney to the test.

Story is here.

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Comments»

1. Jerry - August 4, 2009

Software developers for Goldman or other hedge fund companies can easily bring in 10 million a year. The average Goldman Sachs employee is making over a million a year (secretaries included in these numbers).

I’m sure the DA’s case is going to assert that he sent Goldman’s proprietary software to another firm which he then joined to get a bigger cut from trading profits. If the current company he works at has similar programming language, there may be a case.

If this went to trial, the jury nullification may be that Goldman Sachs developed this “fool proof” system since at least 4 of ex Goldman executives became top politicians for the US Government, etc…


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