Was Goldman Sachs Automated Trading Platform Stolen?

Matt Goldstein over at Reuters reports someone tried to steal Goldman Sachs’ (GS) secret program trading platform which deals  with “a very low latency (microseconds) event-driven market data processing, strategy and order submission engine.” The platform apparently gives Goldman the edge over the competition when it comes to rapid-fire trading of stocks and commodities.

From Reuters:

While most in the US were celebrating the 4th of July, a Russian immigrant living in New Jersey was being held on federal charges of stealing top-secret computer trading codes from a major New York-based financial institution—that sources say is none other than Goldman Sachs.

The allegations, if true, are big news because the codes the accused man, Sergey Aleynikov [photo above], tried to steal is the secret code to unlocking Goldman’s automated stocks and commodities trading businesses. Federal authorities allege the computer codes and related-trading files that Aleynikov uploaded to a German-based website help this major “financial institution” generate millions of dollars in profits each year.

Federal authorities say the platform quickly processes rapid developments in the markets and uses top secret mathematical formulas to allow the firm to make highly-profitable automated trades.

The criminal case has the potential to shed a light on the inner workings of an important profit center for Goldman and other Wall Street firms.

The case against Aleynikov, notes Goldstein, may explain why the NYSE moved quickly last week to stop reporting program stock trading for its most active firms. Goldman often was at the top of the chart, usually a mile ahead of its competitors.

Separately here: Wallstreetpit was contacted by NYSE’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, Mr.  Ray Pellecchia, on the day we ran the story about NYSE’s decision to decomission the daily program trading report, July 1st.  Mr. Pellecchia informed us that “NYSE [was] not [in fact] eliminating the weekly report; [it was] just changing the source of the data to eliminate duplication.”

I’m quoting the rest of Ray’s comment to us:

The Exchange further notes that it will use the existing account type indicator data – which captures program trade information for those orders sent to and executed on the Exchange – to report to the Commission on a weekly basis the program trading statistics for portions of program trades executed on the Exchange. Accordingly, beginning on July 23, 2009, the Exchange will provide the Commission with its weekly statistics on program trading based on account type indicator data rather than DPTR data. Similarly, at the same time, the weekly statistics regarding program trades that the Exchange provides to media outlets will also be derived from account type indicator data rather than the DPTR.

Thanks. — Ray

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