41-year-old former Goldman IT programmer Sergey Aleynikov received an eight year one month prison sentence Friday, after being found guilty in December of stealing trade secrets from the Wall Street firm.
Despite his plea in mitigation - 'I very much regret the foolish decision to download information, part of this information was proprietary to Goldman. I never meant to cause Goldman any harm. I did not intend to harm anyone' - the judge came down hard, and handed down a sentence that was four times higher than what US probation officials had recommended. Prosecutors, however, sought a 10-year prison term.
The eight year sentence does, however, appear somewhat harsh when, only last month, former SocGen trader Samarth Agrawal received a 36 month jail term after being committed for a similar crime.
Aleynikov's moment of madness came in 2009, after he was recruited by electronic trading firm Teza Technologies, which apparently tripled his pay package. Over his last few days at Goldman, the IT programmer is said to have downloaded significant parts of the code onto a server in Germany and then attempted to delete any evidence of what he had done. There is no suggestion that Teza was involved in this wrongdoing.
Kevin Marino, Aleynikov's lawyer, said: 'We feel the sentence is excessive. It's hard to imagine one defendant in an economic espionage case receiving 36 months, and another receiving 97 months'.
To put the jail term in perspective, Ivan Boesky was sentenced to 42 months for his insider crimes in the 1980s, SocGen's Jerome Kerviel 60 months (2 years suspended) for his alleged $7bn fraudulent trading losses (currently under appeal), and Nick Leeson got 78 months for bringing down Barings Bank.