Sergey strikes back

August 10, 2009

The case of Sergey Aleynikov, the former Goldman Sachs programmer charged with stealing some of the top secret code to the investment bank’s high-frequency trading program, is going on the offensive.

Aleynikov has filed a subpoena on his former employer, seeking access to some information–mainly his personnel file. And Goldman has responded by filing a motion in federal court to quash the subpoena. Goldman filed its motion on Aug. 6, a source familiar with the matter says.

A hearing on Goldman’s motion to put the kibosh on Aleynikov’s request for documents will be heard Monday afternoon beofre Judge Paul Crotty.

The hearing on Aleynikov’s motion comes as the attorney for the former Goldman employee and federal prosecutors continue to work towards trying to reach a potential plea deal in the case.

I’m trying to a copy of Goldman’s motion. At this point, we don’t know what information Aleynikov is seeking. But this could be a hot hearing.

UPDATE: Just got a copy of Goldman’s motion and it appears much of what Aleynikov wants are personnel records regarding “performance reviews by peers and superiors, complaints, employee progress reports, training history records” etc.

Goldman says Aleynikov’s request should be denied because the “crux of the complaint is an allegation of theft, not an employment or wage dispute.”

Maybe the most interesting thing in Goldman’s filing is that it has chosen David Boies’ law firm to represent it. The attorney handling the matter is Matthew Friedrich, a former federal prosecutor and member of the Enron task force. Friedrich, who joined the law firm in late July, most recently was deputy chief of staff to former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

That’s a pretty hire powered legal team for what appears to be a rather routine motion. Then again, Goldman can certainly afford to hire the best.

Meanwhile, Aleynikov’s lawyer counters Goldman’s  argument by arguing that the personnel file is necessary to show prosecutors that Aleynikov is a good person and was a valued employee’.’

My take is that Aleynikov’s legal team is trying to get as much ammunition as they can to negotiate a favorable deal for their client. That makes sense for Aleynikov. But there doesn’t appear to be a high-frequency smoking gun in this document request.

UPDATE 2.0: Goldman smackdown, courtesy of Judge Crotty, who gave a pretty hard time to Goldman’s lawyer in court. Aleynikov got access to his personnel file, as requested, and Goldman got nothing. I guess Goldman doesn’t win all the time.


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