Story Highlights• Four people have already pleaded guilty
• Nine others were taken into custody
• Scheme allegedly centered around Morgan Stanley attorney, UBS executive
• Defendants went to great lengths to hide conduct, SEC said
From Richard Davis
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors have charged 13 people in a scheme the Securities and Exchange Commission's director of enforcement described as "one of the most pervasive Wall Street insider trading rings since the days of Ivan Boesky."
The ring netted more than $15 million in illegal profits by trading in inside information allegedly stolen by a high-level executive at UBS Securities and a corporate attorney at Morgan Stanley.
Four people who traded on the inside information have already pleaded guilty to criminal charges, according to the U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York, Michael Garcia. Nine others were taken into custody early Thursday and were arraigned Thursday afternoon.
The scheme centered around Morgan Stanley attorney Randi Collotta and UBS executive Mitchel Guttenberg, who allegedly passed inside information to Wall Street traders and brokers, prosecutors said.
Collotta allegedly shared information about coming corporate buyouts involving Morgan Stanley clients, while Guttenberg allegedly sold information on coming UBS research opinions on stocks, upgrades and downgrades that often moved individual issues.
The defendants went to great lengths to hide their conduct, including the use of disposable cell phones, cash kickbacks, secret codes and clandestine meetings at Manhattan's famed Oyster Bar, the SEC said.
"Today's events should send a message to anyone who believes that insider trading is a quick and easy way to get rich," said SEC Enforcement Director Linda Chatman Thomsen.
CNN was unable to reach Collotta or Guttenberg for comment.
The U.S. attorney has described UBS as a victim of the alleged scheme. In a statement, UBS said it "is assisting the authorities to the fullest extent possible in their investigation into the alleged actions of a single UBS employee."
Morgan Stanley said, "We have cooperated and are continuing to cooperate fully with authorities regarding a former employee who allegedly stole information from Morgan Stanley."
CNN's Allan Chernoff contributed to this report