The FBI has arrested four people—two in California, one in Texas, and one in Massachusetts—for disclosing secrets about technology companies to hedge funds. The arrests are part of a wider insider trading probe being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department, and follows raids last month on selected hedge funds, along with subpoenas for records of their activities. Among the products allegedly impacted by the leaks: Apple’s iPad.
“Today’s charges allege that a corrupt network of insiders at some of the world’s leading technology companies served as so-called ‘consultants’ who sold out their employers by stealing and then peddling their valuable inside information,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office filed the case, said in a statement (PDF).
Three of the men arrested were hired as consultants by Primary Global Research, a California consulting firm. Those arrested include Walter Shimoon of San Diego, California, who worked at Flextronics, a Singapore company that manufacturers power adapters and other components for Apple and other technology companies; Mark Anthony Longoria, who worked as a supply chain manager for AMD; Manosha Karunatilaka, who worked as an account manager for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. Authorities also arrested James Fleishman, a sales manager at Primary Global.
Other people involved in the case include Daniel DeVore, a former global supply manager for Dell who has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges related to the case on December 10. DeVore worked as a paid consultant for Primary Global from late 2007 through August 2010, and admits to having accepted money from hedge funds for inside information.
If convicted, all four face up to 20 years in prison.
Firsm like Primary Global make a business out of matching up investors with experts and specialists who can provide insight into particular markets. The criminal charges in this case highlight connections between Primary Global employees and consultants and as-yet unidentified hedge funds willing to pay for insider information. Authorities note that Shimoon provided confidential information for Apple’s then-forthcoming iPad and iPhone products for payments totaling over $22,000 between January 2008 and June 2010. Authorities allege Karunatilaka received more than $35,000 for information about Tiawan Semiconductor sales and shipping information, Longoria received more than $200,000 for information about AMD revenue and sales, and DeVore received almost $146,000 for providing inside information about Dell and its suppliers.
Bharara noted the investigations into insider trading and corruption will continue over the next “many months and beyond.”
The Federal government is keen to make firms toe the line on corporate responsibility in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.