A tale of stolen stock trading code and emigrant Russian computer programmers. And ballroom dancing!
Meet Sergey Aleynikov, a character ripped straight from the pages of a classic William Gibson novel: competitive ballroom dancer, computer programmer, free-software enthusiast, Russian emigrant to the U.S. and former employee of Goldman Sachs. On July 3, a month after quitting his $400,000 Goldman job to work for a Chicago firm at three times the salary, Aleynikov was arrested on charges of illegally stealing proprietary automated stock-trading software from his employer and uploading it to a Web server in Germany. (Found via Zero Hedge.)
And not just any software. Reuters’ Matt Goldstein, who broke the story, calls the code Goldman Sachs’ “secret sauce.” An affidavit filed by FBI special agent Michael G. McSwain describes it as follows:
A computer platform that allows the Financial Institution to engage in sophisticated, high-speed, and high-volume trades on various stock and commodities markets. Among other things, the Platform is capable of quickly obtaining and processing information regarding rapid developments in these markets … The Financial Institution believes that certain features of the Platform, such as the speed and efficiency by which it obtains and processes market data, give the Financial Institution a competitive advantage among other firms that also engage in high-volume automated trading.
So what we’re talking about here is the code employed by the most sophisticated financial institution on the planet to execute automated stock trades. Code that could presumably be sold to the highest bidder for a pretty penny. Really — if one were to pick a candidate for software likely to develop emergent artificial intelligence, this would have to be it, right? Just kidding. Kinda.
Aleynikov told the FBI that he had intended to download only nonproprietary “open source” files but had accidentally included code that was not free to share. Oops! But, at least so far as described in the affidavit, his story doesn’t look so good, since shortly after transferring about 32 megabytes of code to the German Web server, he attempted to erase the history of the sequence of commands he had employed to transfer the code from his Goldman computer. Unbeknownst to him, however, Goldman kept a separate backup of each employee’s programming history. Double oops! The perils of a network!
Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge offers a wealth of speculation about what the whole saga implies for Goldman Sachs and recent zany stock market behavior. I am in no position to judge whether Aleynikov’s shenanigans portend “doom for … the entire Goldman Sachs program trading group,” as Durden hints, but the story sure has movie treatment written all over it. Kevin Spacey is probably a bit long in the tooth to play the lead role. Maybe Edward Norton?
Just for fun, here’s a clip of a Serge Aleynikov and his wife, Elina, dancing to “You Light Up My Life.”
More Related Stories
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- Top White House aides knew about IRS probe but didn't tell Obama
- Gohmert: IRS would've "probably shot the Boston Tea Party participants"
- Oregon senator proposes appeal to Monsanto Protection Act
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Beltway scandal machine breaks, knows nothing about America
- Top GOP official: "Sometimes our party does not value" women "as much"
- Colorado Dems fight back against GOP's Voter ID measures
- Watchdogs: ABC "in danger of losing a lot of credibility" on Benghazi saga
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- IRS meltdown was long overdue
- Can a liberal wonk save the Senate?
- Arkansas treasurer charged with extortion
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Barack Obama: Incidental black man?
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- Big Soda SNAP-ing up billions off government programs
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- Tea Party Patriots push nationwide anti-IRS rallies
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11