Former SocGen trader found guilty of code theft

A former Société Générale trader has been found guilty of stealing the bank’s secret algorithms in a New York court.

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A former Société Générale trader has been found guilty of stealing the bank’s secret algorithms in a New York court.

Samarth Agrawal was arrested and charged in April, around the time he was set to start a job with Société Générale competitor, hedge fund Tower Research Capital.

According to Reuters, the jury took just two hours to return the guilty verdict against Agrawal. Testimony during the trial revealed that he planned to use the code to help build a high-frequency trading system at the hedge fund.

Agrawal, a 27-year old man who worked for two years at Soc Gen’s Manhattan offices, is accused of copying thousands of lines of algorithmic code into word processing documents and printing them off to take elsewhere.

The code, developed and owned by Soc Gen, was vital for the bank’s high-speed trading and was protected in the same way Coca Cola might defend its list of ingredients and KFC “guards its recipe for chicken”, according to prosecutor Thomas Brown.

Although Agrawal maintained his innocence throughout the trial, on Wednesday (17 November) he admitted in a testimony that he knew copying and printing the code was wrong.

Agrawal will be sentenced on 24 February, and faces up to five years imprisonment. He is also expected to be deported from the US, back to India where he is a citizen.

On 29 November, a similar code theft trial will take place in the same court, when a former Goldman Sachs programmer, Sergey Aleynikov, will appear on charges he stole algorithms to take to his new employer.

The issues at Societe Generale follow an unrelated trial, in which rogue trader Jerome Kerviel, a former employee, was last month convicted of unauthorised computer use, forgery and breach of trust. He was handed a three-year prison sentence and an unprecedented €4.9 billion (£4.3 billion) fine.

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