Thursday, July 09, 2009

goldman sachs stealing?!?!?!

Market-Ticker | Something really ugly popped up on Daily Kos yesterday late in the afternoon.....

...GS, through access to the system as a result of their special gov't perks, was/is able to read the data on trades before it's committed, and place their own buys or sells accordingly in that brief moment, thus allowing them to essentially steal buttloads of money every day from the rest of the punters world.

Two things come out of this:

1. If true, this should be highly illegal, and would, in any sane country result in something like what happened to Arthur Andersen...

(2. ... is way off point....)

God help Goldman if this is true and the government goes after them. This would constitute massive unlawful activity. Indeed, the allegation is that Goldman alone was given this access!

God help our capital markets if this is true and is ignored by our government and regulatory agencies, or generates nothing more than a "handslap." Nobody in their right mind would ever trade on our markets again if this occurred and does not result in severe criminal and civil penalties.

This is precisely the sort of thing that a Unix machine, sitting on a network cable where it can "see" traffic potentially not intended for it, could have an interface put into what is called "promiscuous mode" and SILENTLY sniff that traffic!

ASSUMING THE TRAFFIC IS PASSING BY THE MACHINE ON THE WIRE THIS IS TRIVIALLY EASY FOR ANY NETWORK PROGRAMMER OF REASONABLE SKILL TO DO. IF THAT TRAFFIC IS EITHER UNENCRYPTED OR IT IS EASY TO BREAK THE ENCRYPTION.....

Folks, I have no way to know what the code in question does, but if there's anything to this - anything at all - there is a major, as in biggest scam of the century - scandal here - something much, much bigger than Madoff or Stanford.

What would this mean, if it was all to prove up?

It would mean that Goldman was able to "see" transaction order flow - bid, offer, and execute messages - before they were committed in the transaction stream. Such a "SNIFF" would be COMPLETELY UNDETECTABLE by the sender or recipient of the message.

The implication of this would be that they would be able to front-run any transaction where the data was visible to them, thereby effectively "stealing pennies" from each transaction they were able to front-run.

Again: I have absolutely nothing on the content of the allegedly-stolen code nor can I validate the claim made that Goldman had "special network access." Nothing. All I have to go on with regards to "market manipulation" (which such a program would be, writ large!) is the statement of the US Attorney that I cited in my earlier Ticker.

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