US authorities announced Wednesday the break-up of an alleged $78 million hedge fund insider trading scheme and said they'd charged seven people across the country.
Speaking in Manhattan, the chief federal New York prosecutor, US Attorney Preet Bharara, called the ring "a club where everyone scratched everyone else's back."
Four people were arrested and charged and three more have already entered guilty pleas and are cooperating with investigators, according to a criminal complaint.
Financial employees as far afield as New York, Boston, Connecticut and California were targeted in the sweep.
The seven -- financial analysts and money managers -- were charged with securities fraud and conspiracy. In addition to criminal charges, they, and two of the hedge fund companies, also face charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The seven allegedly made almost $62 million dollars in profits on trades made after illegally sharing non-public information about Dell computer giant in 2008-2009. Illicit trades in Nvidia, another computer company, allegedly netted more than $15.7 million.
The case described in the complaint is built on email and phone records and aid to prosecutors from the three who pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is in the midst of tackling what Bharara calls "rampant" insider trading on Wall Street. More than 50 people so far have been prosecuted.
The highest profile target to date is Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire founder of Galleon hedge fund, who was sentenced to a record 11 years in prison in 2011.
His friend Rajat Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs and head of McKinsey & Co, faces trial this year on insider trading charges.
In Wednesday's arrests, Anthony Chiasson, who surrendered in New York, was the co-founder of Level Global hedge fund. Todd Newman, arrested in Boston, was a former trader with the Diamondback Capital Management hedge fund.
Jon Horvath, arrested in New York, was a technology stocks analyst, while Danny Kuo, a fund manager, was arrested in Pasadena, California.
A crucial link in the alleged scheme was Sandeep Goyal, who had previously worked for Dell, before going on to a global asset management firm in New York. There, he allegedly continued to receive insider information from a so-far unnamed source within Dell, the complaint said.
According to the SEC, Level Global made about $72.6 million in the trades, while Diamondback made $3.9 million.
"These are not low-level employees succumbing to temptation by seizing a chance opportunity. These are sophisticated players who built a corrupt network to systematically and methodically obtain and exploit illegal inside information again and again at the expense of law-abiding investors and the integrity of the markets," said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC enforcement.