On his last day of work at Goldman Sachs Group, programmer Sergey Aleynikov sent pieces of Goldman's trading software to an outside computer server, a jury in New York was told on the opening day of his trial on charges that he stole computer code.
Aleynikov “thought that he’d found a foolproof way of getting around the security barriers” designed to prevent employee theft of trade secrets, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti told the jury, in opening arguments, Bloomberg reported. The export of data took place at 5:20 p.m. on June 5, 2009, he said.
The code was sent to a site in Europe that is used to store computer instructions and was not blocked by Goldman Sachs, Facciponit said. Aleynikov then used another program to try and hide the export, Facciponti said.
Aleynikov was arrested the next month, on July 3, 2009. Federal agents searched Aleynikov’s laptop, a flash drive and his home computers, with his consent, Facciponti said. All contained code stolen from Goldman Sachs, according to the Bloomberg report.
Aleynikov is charged with violating the Economic Espionage Act and the Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property Act. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who is presiding over the trial, dismissed a third criminal count of unauthorized computer access in September.
If convicted, Aleynikov faces as much as 15 years in prison.
Facciponti told jurors the programmer started at Goldman Sachs in 2007 and worked there until 2009, when he agreed to take a job at Teza Technologies LLC. Chicago-based Teza promised a $1.2 million salary, a bonus and a share of profits, compared with $400,000 he was making at Goldman Sachs, the prosecutor said.
Defense lawyer Kevin Marino argued that Aleynikov intended to strip out pieces of open-source software, which is open to public use and keep that code. Aleynikov did not intend to take any Goldman code. But, Bloomberg reported, Marino did say Aleynikov tried to cover his tracks because he knew he was violating the company’s confidentiality rules and feared being sued by the firm.
Aleynikov, an immigrant from Russia who became a U.S. citizen, has been free on bail since his arrest. If convicted, he faces a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years on two criminal counts. The judge, prosecutors and defense have agreed to allow three weeks for the trial, according to Reuters.
U.S. prosecutors had asked Judge Denise Cote to close parts of the trial to protect Goldman's trade secrets, Reuters reported.