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Two charged with stealing source code from NY trading firm

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two men have been charged by New York prosecutors with stealing secret computer code from a high-frequency trading firm in an effort to start their own business.

Jason Vuu, 26, a former trader at Flow Traders LLC in Manhattan, was charged with emailing himself trading strategies, valuation algorithms and proprietary code from the firm and sharing the code with another man, Simon Lu, 25, according to criminal complaints filed by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Another former trader at Flow Traders, Glen Cressman, 26, was charged with copying files containing trading strategies and valuation algorithms without permission, the complaints said.

Paul Shechtman, a lawyer for Lu, and Jeremy Saland, a lawyer for Vuu, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Charles Ross, who represents Cressman, said his client was innocent.

"He was a fine employee, and when everything about the case is aired, it will be clear he did nothing wrong," Ross said.

A lawyer for Flow Traders, which according to its website is an international proprietary trading house headquartered in Amsterdam, could not be reached immediately for comment.

The three men were arraigned on the charges two weeks ago and are due back in court on November 18, when they could face grand jury indictments. Lu currently resides in Pittsburgh, Vuu in California, and Cressman in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to prosecutors.

The arrests came a year after Vance's office charged former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. programmer Sergey Aleynikov with stealing secret trading code. Aleynikov had been previously been convicted in federal court for the same actions, but his conviction was thrown out in February 2012 by an appeals court, which said federal espionage laws did not cover his alleged theft.

Vance then charged Aleynikov under New York state law. Earlier this year, a judge denied Aleynikov's attempt to have the state charges dismissed on double jeopardy grounds. Aleynikov, who pleaded not guilty, is free on bail.

Both Vance and the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, Preet Bharara, whose office brought the initial case against Aleynikov, have made combating computer crime and corporate espionage a top priority.

Lu, Vuu and Cressman all face multiple counts of unlawful duplication of computer-related material and unauthorized use of secret scientific material, the same charges Aleynikov is facing. The charges carry sentences of up to four years in prison.

Vuu sent copies of files from his work email account to his personal email address 10 times from August 2011 to August 2012, the complaint said. He also shared source code with Lu via the file-hosting service Dropbox after Lu suggested the code could help them start their own firm, according to the complaint.

Cressman's personal email account received copied files containing trading strategies and valuation algorithms twice in December 2012, according to the complaint.

The charges were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Noeleen Walder, Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler)

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