Michael Douglas, leading actor of the movie Wall Street, is playing a new and unlikely role as spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its war against corruption on Wall Street.
The actor, who became a symbol of Wall Street culture for coining the phrase “Greed is Good” in the 1980s movie, is sending a new message. In a public service announcement, Mr Douglas will tell traders and brokers that insider trading is a serious crime.
The FBI showed the 60 second segment at an event on Monday morning, as officials highlighted that white collar crime is the top priority of the New York office. They hope to reach traders and hedge fund portfolio managers who might face the choice of crossing the line from trading on legal stock research to illegally trading on secretive non-public information.
David Chaves, the FBI supervisor overseeing the insider trading investigations who conceived the public service announcement, said the agency hoped it would be “a big deterrent for people who are on that line. That’s our goal here.”
Mr. Chaves said he made contact with Mr. Douglas, who won an Oscar for his role as the antagonist Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, because of the symbolism of the role. The segment was filmed at the Trump International Hotel in New York.
The FBI said it did not buy advertising slots to air the PSA but expects it will be shown on cable channels and through news outlets.
The campaign will be followed by a working group which the FBI hopes to begin in April with hedge fund compliance officers, lawyers, and fund managers.
Since launching Operation Perfect Hedge five years ago the FBI has deployed different tactics to investigate insider trading, including the use of wire taps to capture real-time conversations between hedge fund traders and analysts, company insiders, and consultants.
Those tactics were displayed during the trial of Raj Rajaratnam, co-founder of Galleon Group when prosecutors played hours of secretly recorded phone conversations. Mr. Rajaratnam was convicted and is serving an 11 year prison sentence.
Since 2009, the FBI and US attorney’s office in Manhattan have announced convictions against more than 50 individuals for insider trading.
The dawn arrests of billionaire traders sent shock waves across Wall Street, causing some hedge funds to hire private security companies to sweep their homes and offices for listening devices. The FBI hopes the PSA will have an additional effect.
“We’re still developing cases so clearly there are people who are still breaking the law but we’re gratified in the feedback that we’re hearing from cooperators,” said Mr. Chaves of the FBI. “People are very, very aware of the FBI’s presence on Wall Street.”