U.S. wants courtroom sealed for Goldman trial

By Reuters
Posted Oct. 27, 2010 at 9:59 a.m.

U.S. prosecutors asked a federal judge to seal the courtroom for part of the upcoming criminal trial of a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. computer programmer, an effort to protect the secrecy of the bank’s high-frequency trading platform.

Prosecutors said in a court filing that there is a “compelling interest in favor of privacy” for Goldman in the trial of the former employee, Sergey Aleynikov.

They cited a federal law to protect owners of trade secrets and a desire not to cause the investment bank to be “re-victimized” through the release of confidential, proprietary trading secrets.

“Any public disclosure of a trade secret poses the substantial risk that the trade secret’s value to its owner will be significantly diminished, if not destroyed outright,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti wrote.

Aleynikov is accused of stealing Goldman’s computer code. He is set to go on trial on Nov. 29 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on two charges alleging theft of trade secrets and transportation of stolen property in interstate commerce.

A third charge alleging unauthorized computer access was dismissed last month. Aleynikov has pleaded not guilty.

Goldman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the request to seal the Manhattan federal courtroom.

It is common for parties to request the closure of courtrooms when proprietary secrets or sensitive information might otherwise be disclosed publicly.

Aleynikov is accused of improperly downloading Goldman code to an outside server on June 5, 2009, his last day working at the company.

The government contends he later took a laptop containing code and another storage device to his new employer, Teza Technologies LLC, a high-frequency trading start-up in Chicago.

Aleynikov was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport on July 3, 2009. Teza later suspended him.

The defense has been seeking access to Goldman’s trading system, including source code.

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  1. Fred in IT Oct. 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Too many secrets…. publish the code.

  2. Wesley Parish Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    But isn’t the woeful lack of transparency in the banking industry a major reason for the economic meltdown? And so, shouldn’t there be an enforced transparency about this trial? It is after all, a case of a big thief taking a smaller thief to court – so there are no secrets worth protecting.

  3. usurykills Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Seal the courtroom and fumigate.

  4. Norm Oct. 29, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

    Protecting the banks, again, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by fencing-in demonstrators at G-20, banning books like “America Deceived II” and trying to take-over the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by wireless wiretapping.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.
    Impeach Obama (and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul).
    [Link of Banned Book]:

  5. Ak47blog Oct. 29, 2010 at 9:13 a.m.

    Goldman Sad Sacks secret computer codes are you kidding?

    A lone 1900’s foreign immigrant copied and imitated crony financiers and banking barons scams with a slide rule. The scam is known as ‘pyramid and reverse pyramid’ schemes not hidden secret cryptic computer codes. Cpoied and imitated 50 years prior to electronic calculators, sophisticated computer systems, and ultra high speed computer logarithms algorithm applications.

    The real SECRET is how crony Wall Street escapes charges on RICO ACT Statute!


  6. robertsgt40 Oct. 29, 2010 at 9:29 a.m.

    “Any public disclosure of a trade secret poses the substantial risk that the trade secret’s value to its owner will be significantly diminished, if not destroyed outright,”–So this guy stole a criminal trade secret. Is Goldman concerned that if others could use the same CRIMINAL technology, Goldman would lose their criminal egde? Geez

  7. Bob Oct. 30, 2010 at 7:16 a.m.

    There are researched estimates that Goldmans HFT defraud market investors out of approx US$100million each and every trading day, and they are just one of the multiple ‘to big to jail’ banks like JP Morgan that all do the same damn thing.

    Goldman do this by locating their powerful trading computers at the actual stock exchanges, and hence these are able to issue and cancel buy and sell orders thousands of times faster than the average institutional investor or day trader sitting in their home or office on a broadband or wired link that has hundreds and thousands of times more latency to place trading orders.

    Its like competing in a real-time online game against someone plugged directly into the hosting game server when you are on a old PC with a slow modem, they will beat you over and over with no skill or risk to themselves even needed.

    It constitutes felony insider trading and always has been, they steal literal dollars from every transaction by probing the minimum sell price of traders trying to sell stock and the maximum buy prices of other traders trying to buy the same stock price by placing lots of tiny orders rapidly in order to detect the limits that the traders have set and then squeeze out the maximum profit for themselves as a middleman – at absolutely no risk to themselves.

    As for ‘a desire not to cause the investment bank to be “re-victimized”’, what we are seeing here is no less than prosecutors doing their utmost to protect some of the most destructive and dangerous crime empires in the history of the world. There is a good reason a whole swathe of the population and business of the US and Europe is bankrupt while the so called ‘banks’ are recording record profits – this is not simply a coincidence.