US authorities are actively building cases against 120 people accused of insider trading in an expanding and possibly unprecedented criminal probe, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
The Journal said the investigation comes after a series of successful prosecutions of insider trading, with 66 people charged since late 2009 and 57 of them convicted or pleading guilty.
"We've identified them, and now of course we have to build a case around that," the Journal quoted David Chaves, a senior Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, as saying on the sidelines of a Monday press conference.
It cited Chaves as saying that roughly 240 people, including hedge fund traders and company insiders, were being investigated for possible improper insider trading.
Half of those are "targets," meaning the government believes they have broken the law and is building cases against them, Chaves told the Journal.
On Monday the FBI launched a new campaign starring Michael Douglas -- who played the villainous trader Gordon Gekko in the classic film "Wall Street" -- to encourage the public to provide information about insider trading.
The ads feature the young Michael Douglas voicing the movie's trademark line "Greed... is good" followed by an older Douglas saying: "The movie was fiction but the problem is real."
He goes on to urge viewers with information about insider trading to alert their local FBI office.