Never let it be said that the Justice Department can’t move quickly when it gets a hot tip about an alleged crime at a Wall Street bank. It does help, though, if the party doing the complaining is the bank itself, and not merely an aggrieved customer.
Another plus is if the bank tells the feds the security of the U.S. financial markets is at stake. This brings us to the strange tale of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Sergey Aleynikov.
Aleynikov, 39, is the former Goldman computer programmer who was arrested on theft charges July 3 as he stepped off a flight at Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. That was two days after Goldman told the government he had stolen its secret, rapid-fire, stock- and commodities-trading software in early June during his last week as a Goldman employee. Prosecutors say Aleynikov uploaded the program code to an unidentified Web site server in Germany.
It wasn’t just Goldman that faced imminent harm if Aleynikov were to be released, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti told a federal magistrate judge at his July 4 bail hearing in New York. The 34-year-old prosecutor also dropped this bombshell: “The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.”
The only possible conclusion to take from this story is that nobody at Goldman Sachs could have possibly known how to use this program, which they wrote, because that would imply that they “manipulate markets in unfair ways.” Matt Taibbi must feel ashamed for unfairly slandering the firm’s credibiltiy.