Four people, including an executive from an expert networking firm, have been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in an operation seen as part of a widening probe into insider trading.

Those arrested include Walter Shimoon, 39, of San Diego, California, who worked as a senior director of business development at Flextronics International Ltd, a Singapore-headquartered company that makes power adapters and other parts for Apple and other big tech companies; Mark Anthony Longoria, 44, who was employed by chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc as a supply chain manager in Round Rock, Texas; Manosha Karunatilaka, an account manager for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) in Burlington, Massachusetts; and James Fleishman, a sales executive at Primary Global Research, a California-based expert network firm.

According to federal agents, Fleishman had hired the other three to work as 'consultants' to fund managers on the tech industry. All that these so-called 'consultants' did were leak inside secrets about technology companies to hedge funds.

Shimoon, for instance, had leaked inside information about the release of the Apple iPad as well as the new features of the updated version of the iPhone as early as 2009. Flextronics, as a parts supplier, was privy to those details. Both the iPad as well as the new iPhone 4 was launched earlier this year.

Longoria had told several Primary Global clients about AMD's second-quarter 2009 financial results, including average sales prices, product sales figures, and gross margin information, before they were officially released.

Karunatilaka had leaked confidential TSMC information, including inside information such as TSMC product sales and shipping information to Primary Global's clients. He has also dealt with Level Global Investors LP, one of the three hedge funds that were raided last month by federal agents, while he was a 'consultant' for Primary Global.

Primary Global said it no longer worked with the three consultants and added that it has placed Fleishman on leave.

According to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office had filed the case, there exists a corrupt network of insiders at some of the world's leading technology companies. The accused, Bharara said, sold out their employers by stealing and then peddling their valuable inside information.

Hedge funds pay networking firms to be linked up with industry experts, who are supposed to offer insight on trends and how sectors work. However, in this case the experts were revealing information about sales and profits that gave certain investors an edge in trading, the government said.

Earlier this month, Daniel DeVore, formerly a global supply manager for Dell, had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges, according to court records.

DeVore, like Shimoon, Longoria and Karunatilaka, worked as a 'consultant' for Primary Global Research and, while employed at Dell as a global supply manager, DeVore had provided confidential information about Dell and Dell's suppliers, including inside information, to clients of Primary Global, including hedge funds.

The recent arrests resulted from secretly recorded telephone conversations and testimony provided by five cooperating witnesses.

Bharara said the crackdown on insider trading and corporate corruption will continue over the next many months and beyond.

We will continue to enforce the law, police the market, and protect honest businesses and their shareholders by working methodically with the FBI and SEC to root out corporate corruption and insider trading, he said.