The New York Times reports that Aleynikov was charged in state court less than six months after a federal appeals court overturned his conviction on federal criminal charges that he stole secret source code from Goldman’s computers.
While the case involved a relatively low-level ex-employee at the firm, the government has taken a particularly hard line. The district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, have made the prosecution of corporate espionage and high-tech theft a top priority.
'This code is so highly confidential that it is known in the industry as the firm’s ‘secret sauce'', Vance said Thursday in a statement. 'Employees who exploit their access to sensitive information should expect to face criminal prosecution in New York State'.
The district attorney charged Aleynikov with the unlawful use of secret scientific material and duplication of computer-related material, both felonies under New York State law. If convicted, he could serve one to four years in prison.
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In the meantime, Reuters reports that the U.S. Justice Department said it will not pursue criminal charges against Goldman Sachs Group Inc or its employees related to accusations that the firm bet against the same subprime mortgage securities it was selling to clients.
The decision not to prosecute Goldman, a firm held up by critics as a symbol of Wall Street greed during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, highlights the difficulty in prosecuting crisis-related cases.