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Goldman Ex-Trader Convicted of Code Theft

MANHATTAN (CN) - After a speedy deliberation, jurors convicted former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov of stealing trade secrets behind the bank's high-frequency trading system, which places orders as market data gets processed through its system.

During the trial, Goldman Sachs directors testified that competing algorithmic trading codes try to get an edge of even a millionth of a second.

Prosecutors said in summations that a competing company, Teza Technology, offered Aleynikov a millionaire's salary, and Aleynikov "moved fast" to download Goldman Sachs codes for his new employer.

Defense attorney Kevin Marino argued that the government moved too quickly to charge his client with a crime three days after his arrest.

The twelve jurors kept up the brisk pace after a two-week trial, finding Aleynikov guilty of the two charges he faced with one day of deliberations.

As they entered the courtroom and moved to their seats, some jurors shot guarded glances at Aleynikov. Their eyes settled on U.S. District Judge Denise Cote as she read the determination finding Aleynikov guilty of theft of trade secrets and transportation of stolen property.

Arresting FBI Special Agent Michael McSwain, who a court document shows owned Goldman Sachs stock, testified during trial that Aleynikov acted like a "gentleman" during his July 1, 2009, arrest and interrogation.

As Cote read the verdict, Aleynikov lowered his head, and his mother covered her face briefly with her hand. A family friend sitting to her side embraced her as the verdict was read.

Aleynikov and his mother remained composed, and they hugged each other and smiled after the sentence was read.

"I am personally deeply grateful for the diligence you made on this case," Cote told the jury.

She advised them that, although they had the right to speak to the press, they would be advised not to speak. All of the jurors heeded her advice, declining all inquiries from press waiting outside the courtroom.

Cote also told the jurors, "You may not at any time discuss Goldman Sachs trade secrets."

Court was sealed several times throughout the trial to bar spectators from hearing testimony involving the specifics of Goldman Sachs' high-frequency trading code.

Defense attorney Kevin Marino and his client declined to comment on the verdict, as they stoically exited the courtroom.

Prosecutor Joseph Facciponti also made no comments and flashed a brief smile as he left.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said of the verdict, "The brazen theft of intellectual property by Sergey Aleynikov had the potential to cause serious harm to the company [Goldman Sachs], and now he will pay for his crimes."

Aleynikov, 40, faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 18, 2011.


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