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UBS files code theft lawsuit

14 July 2009  |  10085 views  |  3 arrow on screen

In an incident with striking parallels to the recent Goldman Sachs code theft case, it now emerges that UBS in March filed a lawsuit against three former quant traders alleging that they stole proprietary algorithmic trading software with the intent of using it at their new employer, Jefferies.

The Swiss bank filed suit against the head of its North American quant trading desk Jatin Suryawanshi and two of his colleagues Partha Sarkar and Sanjay Girdhar, who have since joined rival broker Jeffries, alleging that they conspired to steal more that 250,000 lines of source code relating to its top secret algorithmic trading programs.

The suit alleges that they deleted documents from UBS computers to hide their actions and performed services for Jefferies while still under employment at UBS.

The three accused are contesting the charge and deny taking any source code and using it for any purpose other than for UBS.

Coincidentally, Suryawanshi worked on the algorithmic trading desk at Goldman Sachs before joining UBS.

Earlier this month Goldman Sachs accused an ex-employee, programmer Sergey Aleynikov, of copying its proprietary code for high speed, high volume stock and commodities trading, with the intent of transferring it to his new employer.

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 15 July, 2009, 04:53

In the first instance, if stealing code from your employer is illegal then the law should be applied. Without particular reference to this case it did get me wondering why obviously bright people do things which on the surface appear to be less than bright.

I am left to wonder the specific terms of employment contracts ie. 'any intellectual property you come up with while working for us belongs to us', probably carries the same weight as 'we will pay you according to this bonus structure'.

Perhaps if an employee was not paid according to the terms of the employment contract (ie bonuses) then are all bets off?

Take it a step further and perhaps the employer has gone bankrupt and the employee has not received their full entitlements, do they have a right to take out a lien against some intellectual property they have created whilst working for the company?

Is 'they canceled my bonus' (perhaps for political reasons) a  defense?

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Stanley Epstein
Stanley Epstein - Citadel Advantage Ltd - Modiin | 15 July, 2009, 08:30

Whatever the reason for the theft one simply cannot take the law into one's own hands, even if the perpetrator believes that he is justified in doing what he did.

 
Dean's question "why obviously bright people do things which on the surface appear to be less than bright" does need an answer. Bright people think that they are SO bright that they are going to get away with it or to put it another way, that they can fool all of the people all of the time.

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Elizabeth Lumley
Elizabeth Lumley - Girl, Disrupted - Crayford | 15 July, 2009, 10:31

Remember with both the Goldman Sachs guy and these UBS ex-employees, they have only been accused of theft, not convicted of theft. Let people, (even evil quant traders), be innocent until proven guilty, guys!

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