Monday, February 28, 2011, 2/28/2011 01:14:00 PM

WSJ Reports that Prosecutors Are Seeking 6-8 Years for Convicted SocGen Trade Secret Thief

By Todd

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a former Societe Generale SA trader should serve as much as eight years and a month in prison after he was convicted last year of stealing the French bank's proprietary code for its high-frequency-trading business, prosecutors said. We blogged about this case repeatedly as it was being tried:

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had alleged that Samarth Agrawal secretly printed out copies of the bank's computer code in 2009 and planned to use it to build a copy of SocGen's trading program at a competitor. A jury convicted him of theft of trade secrets and transportation of stolen property in November.

"The defendant stole his employer's valuable high-frequency trading code for simple reason: greed," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas G.A. Brown and Daniel W. Levy said in a court filing late Thursday.

High-speed trading and other financial firms aggressively protect their code, considering it a trade secret and a competitive advantage.

Mr. Agrawal, by bringing the code to a competitor, expected to "earn what he expected would be millions of dollars—far more than the hundreds of thousands of dollar he expected to make at SocGen," prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Mr. Agrawal should serve six years and six months to eight years and one month in prison. Sentencing is set for Monday

In court papers earlier this week, Ivan Fisher, Mr. Agrawal's lawyer, argued that Mr. Agrawal should receive a more lenient sentence because SocGen suffered no loss and there was no intent on his part to cause one.

"In terms of specific deterrence, we respectfully submit based upon this submission, that more incarceration is not necessary," Mr. Fisher said. "It is inconceivable that any further punishment need be inflicted upon this defendant whose awareness on so many levels, whose remorse is felt so deeply and in so many ways, needs anything more to make certain that the law-abiding nature of his lifelong way of living, again presented in the letters attached to this submission, is easily sufficient."
A native of India, Mr. Agrawal, 27 years old, has been in custody since his arrest in April 2010.


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