(CN) – A former Societe Generale trader was convicted Friday of copying the French bank’s speed-trading computer code. After a two-week trial, a federal New York jury took two hours to convict Samarth Agrawal, 27, of stealing trade secrets and transporting stolen property across state lines.
Agrawal had pleaded not guilty, but surprisingly admitted at trial, under questioning from his own lawyer, that he knew that copying the bank’s proprietary computer code was wrong.
High-frequency trading software allows firms to trade shares in milliseconds, generating millions of dollars in profits for an individual bank like Societe Generale.
A native of India, Agrawal worked at the bank’s Manhattan office from March 2007 to November 2009. He printed out hundreds of pages of code, and was caught on security cameras stashing the printouts in a backpack.
Agrawal took the code to his home in New Jersey and used it to help land a lucrative job offer to develop a high-speed trading system for Tower Capital Research, a trading group and hedge fund, according to officials.
Societe Generale spokesman Jim Galvin said in a statement: “We are very satisfied with today’s guilty verdict. We brought this matter to the attention of the criminal authorities because Societe Generale is determined to protect its valuable intellectual property to the fullest extent of the law.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called Agrawal “a thief who hoped to make a small fortune by stealing and copying sophisticated computer code that was the equivalent of gold bullion to his former employers.”
Agrawal faces up to 5 years in prison at his sentencing on Feb. 24. He is also expected to be deported from the United States.