A former securities industry employee from Kazakhstan has gone on trial in New York accused of hacking into Bloomberg computer systems in Manhattan and attempting to extort money from company founder Michael Bloomberg.
In court it was alleged that 29-year old Oleg Zezov found a way to break into Bloomberg's computer systems and read personal emails. Zevov is a former employee of Kazkommerts Securities in Almaty Kazakhstan, and was directly involved with the distribution of database services via the Open Bloomberg system.
Zezov is alleged to have obtained the credit card number of Michael Bloomberg himself and initiated Hotmail correspondence under the pseudonym Alex demanding a $200,000 fee in return for advising on weaknesses in computer security.
Bloomberg reported the matter to the FBI and a meet was arranged in London in August 2000, when Zezov and an accomplice Igor Yarimaka were arrested.
Both Zezov and Yarimaka deny the charges. They claim they were merely offering consultancy services. In opening statements, Zezov's lawyer Robert Baum described the case as "a rush to judgment by a multibillionaire who could not accept that his computer system was fallible and had a bug in it".
Bloomberg, now mayor of New York, is expected to testify next week.
If found guilty, Zevov and his accomplice face up to 20 years in jail.