Four executives at publicly traded technology companies have been arrested on charges they sold inside information about their employers, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The executives allegedly pocketed hefty consulting fees for selling data to Primary Global, a Mountain View, California, market research company. Primary Global recruits experts from a number of industries, including the technology sector, to provide information about trends that it then sells to money managers. But according to the US Department of Justice, one of the firm's salesmen - James Fleishman - crossed the line and sold insider information to hedge funds.
"The information trafficked by the four 'consultants' went way beyond permissible market research," the US Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday.
Primary Global declined to comment, except to confirm that the four insiders had worked for it as consultants, and to say that Fleishman, who has been with the company since June 2006, has now been placed on leave.
A former Dell global supply manager named Daniel Devore pleaded guilty to fraud charges on 10 December, the FBI said. He made $145,750 from Primary Global between 2007 and 2010.
Devore is no longer employed by Dell, said Dell spokesman David Frink. "Dell is committed to the highest standards of ethics and integrity and we'll cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities," he said.
Devore also provided inside information concerning Dell suppliers including Western Digital and Seagate, according to court filings.
Fleishman was arrested on Thursday on wire fraud and conspiracy charges.
Also arrested were Mark Longoria, formerly a supply chain manager with AMD; Walter Shimoon, a senior director of business development with Flextronics International; and Manosha Karunatilaka, an account manager with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the DOJ said.
All three are facing wire and securities fraud charges.
AMD's Longoria made more than $200,000 during a two-year period, prosecutors say.
"It appears that AMD is the victim of an insider trading scheme," AMD said Thursday. Longoria resigned from the company on 22 October, 2010, and AMD has been cooperating with the investigation, the company said.
Shimoon, who worked for Apple partner Flextronics, allegedly "provided highly confidential sales forecast information and new product features for Apple's forthcoming 'iPhone' cellular telephone," the FBI said. He earned $22,000 in consulting fees.
Karunatilaka allegedly provided TSMC sales and shipping information.
The investigation is ongoing, the FBI said.