Indian gets 3-year term for stealing trade secrets in US

New York, March 2 (IANS) Samarth Agrawal, a 27-year-old Indian who worked as a trader at the French investment bank Societe Generale (SocGen) here, has been sentenced to three years in prison for theft of trade secrets.

Manhattan federal court Judge Jed S. Rakoff imposed the sentence Tuesday on Agrawal, who was found guilty Nov 19 last year by a jury of stealing proprietary computer code used in SocGen’s high-frequency trading business and of interstate transportation of the stolen code.

In addition to the prison sentence, Rakoff ordered Agrawal to serve two years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Agrawal may be deported to India after his release from prison, he said.

Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said: ‘Aggressive protection of intellectual property is essential to America’s current economic prosperity and future success. Today’s sentence confirms that theft of intellectual property by people like Agrawal is a serious federal offence that can lead to substantial jail time.’

According to prosecution, Agrawal worked at SocGen’s New York offices from March 2007 to November 2009, first as a quantitative analyst and then as a trader in SocGen’s High Frequency Trading Group.

Prosecutors alleged that on June 12, 2009, Agrawal obtained access to a unit of the code relating to the type of trading activity in which he was involved. The next day, he printed out hundreds of pages of the code from his office at SocGen.

He was caught on surveillance cameras stashing the printouts of the code in a backpack. He then took the code from SocGen’s New York offices to his home in New Jersey.

Before he obtained access to the code, printed it out, and took it home, Agrawal had been trying to leave SocGen to find more lucrative work at another company that engaged in high-frequency trading.

Agrawal was arrested April 19, 2010, the day he was supposed to start work at the rival company. A subsequent search of his apartment revealed the copy of the stolen code, which was neatly organized in folders on his desk, prosecutors said.