The FBI has enlisted Michael Douglas, best known for his role as the ruthless financial executive Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, in the Bureau's efforts to crackdown on the rising number of insider trading cases. While Gekko lived by the mantra that "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good," Douglas is now asking corporate employees and financial traders to report insider trading and securities fraud to the FBI.
Appearing in a public service announcement that begins with a scene from Wall Street, Douglas says, "In the movie Wall Street I play Gordon Gekko, a greedy corporate executive who cheated to profit while innocent investors lost their savings. The movie was fiction, but the problem is real."
"Our economy is increasingly dependent on the success and the integrity of the financial markets," Douglas says in the video produced by the FBI. "If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. For more information on how you can identify securities fraud, or to report insider training, contact your local FBI office. Or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov."
In the 1987 movie, the corrupt Gekko is eventually brought down and sent to prison after an employee -- played by Charlie Sheen -- turns on him and works with federal agents.
A report released by the FBI on Monday on financial crimes noted that there has been an increase in the number of insider trading cases.
"While the number of cases involving the falsification of financial information remains relatively stable, the FBI has observed an increase in the number of insider trading cases. Insider trading has been a continuous threat to the fair and orderly operation of the U.S. financial markets and has robbed the investing public of some degree of trust that markets operate fairly," said the report, which looked at financial crimes from October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2011.
FBI Special Agent David Chaves said the Bureau "couldn't be more excited" with Douglas' cooperation.
"The antagonist role that he played as Gordon Gekko suggested to us there would be no better voice to put this message out insider trading and securities fraud," said Chaves. Chaves works in the FBI's New York Field Office where he is the supervisor of the corporate and securities fraud unit.
"Greed is a factor that we always have to consider. Our hope is that we continue to be proactive and aggressive in this area," he said.
Insider trading has been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in a number of high profile cases with 66 individuals being charged since August 2009. The district successfully prosecuted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam who operated an elaborate insider trading operation that netted him and other defendants over $60 million in profits.
The case was also unique because the FBI and prosecutors used court authorized wire taps to build the case, something that the FBI and Justice Department have been doing more frequently in other corporate fraud cases.
In January, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department charged seven individuals from hedge funds Diamondback Capital Management LLC and Level Global Investors LP for illegally trading on inside information about Dell and Nvidia and allegedly netting $78 million in profits.