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Bank programmer gets eight years for code theft

A former Goldman Sachs programmer was sentenced on Friday to eight years in prison for stealing code from the company's high-frequency trading platform.Sergey Aleynikov was a programmer at the large financial company until June 2009, when authorities allege he stole source code as he left to take a job with Teza Technologies.

A former Goldman Sachs programmer was sentenced on Friday to eight years in prison for stealing code from the company's high-frequency trading platform.

Sergey Aleynikov was a programmer at the large financial company until June 2009, when authorities allege he stole source code as he left to take a job with Teza Technologies.

He was convicted on two counts — theft of trade secrets and transportation of stolen property — in December and was sentenced on Friday.

"I very much regret the foolish decision to download information, part of this information was proprietary to Goldman," Aleynikov said before sentencing. "I never meant to cause Goldman any harm. I did not intend to harm anyone," he added, according to the Wall Street Journal.

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a process where substantial fleets of servers are used to process and analyse financial data to make sub-millisecond trades. It is a business with stakes such that "you can lose millions of dollars for each microsecond of latency".

During the trial, the courtroom was closed to the public multiple times to protect Goldman Sachs' proprietary HFT source code, according to the New York Times. The HFT unit accounted for around $300m (£184m) in revenues for the company in 2010, the court heard.

Aleynikov had been offered a job at Teza Technologies that would triple his $400,000 Goldman salary, the court heard. In the three days prior to leaving his Goldman job, he uploaded source code to a server in Germany, allowing him to get around the company's security controls.

"As today’s guilty verdict demonstrates, we will use the full force of the federal law to prosecute those who steal valuable and proprietary information from their employers, whether those firms are on Wall Street or Main Street," Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement at the time of the conviction in December.