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To catch a rogue quant

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The case of a computer programmer accused of stealing the secret codes used in Goldman Sachs’ rapid-fire stock trading platform shows that even a titan of Wall Street can be caught napping at the switch.

Sure, it was Goldman that went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after discovering that a former employee allegedly downloaded copies of the “source code” for the firm’s stock trading system.

Federal authorities say that a few weeks ago, Goldman began monitoring its computer network for illegal file transfers and it was during one of those electronic sweeps that the actions of Sergey Aleynikov, the former employee, were apparently detected.

Goldman, however, might be guilty of falling too much in love with technology to ferret out any bad apples. When Aleynikov told his employer that he was leaving to join a Chicago firm that engaged in the same kind of “high-volume automated trading” that he was doing at Goldman and would be paid nearly three times his $400,000 annual salary for doing so, surely that should have raised suspicions?

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