Wall Street is worried about the federal authorities' three-year probe that could result in widespread insider trading charge that, according to the Wall Street Journal, "could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders, and analysts across the nation." The probes, "which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation...have the potential to expose a culture of pervasive insider trading in U.S. financial markets, including new ways non-public information is passed to traders through experts tied to specific industries or companies, federal authorities say."

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has been focusing on insider trading, and his office and the SEC headed the investigation, which has apparently . A principal at a research boutique in Portland, Oregon sent an email to hedge-fund and mutual-fund clients about a visit from the FBI, "Today two fresh faced eager beavers from the FBI showed up unannounced (obviously) on my doorstep thoroughly convinced that my clients have been trading on copious inside information. (They obviously have been recording my cell phone conversations for quite some time, with what motivation I have no idea.) We obviously beg to differ, so have therefore declined the young gentleman's gracious offer to wear a wire and therefore ensnare you in their devious web."

It's believed some of the charges could be brought by the end of this year. A white-collar attorney, Bill Singer, tells the Post, "Prosecutors particularly like the pressure that perp walks have on families and friends during the holidays." He added, "This is going to be the big target of the federal prosecutors in 2011 and the next several weeks. There are a lot of hedge funds out there and institutional trading desks that are going to get calls, and they're really worried."