Christopher Collins: Congressman accused of insider trading


Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.) was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday and indicted on charges related to securities fraud.

Rep. Christopher Collins, a Republican congressman from NY, was arrested Wednesday and charged with insider trading related to an Australian biotechnology company.

Collins, who was the first House Republican to endorse Donald Trump for president, is accused of tipping off his son about clinical trial results for a drug being developed by Innate Immunotherapeutics treat a form of multiple sclerosis, information that wasn't available to the public, according to prosecutors.

Chris Collins' attorneys Jonathan New and Jonathan Barr say their client is innocent, saying they will "mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name".

"Throughout my tenure in Congress I have followed all rules and ethical guidelines when it comes to my personal investments", Collins said in an statement when he resigned.

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Collins, who was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's presidential bid, surrendered Wednesday morning at his attorney's office in Manhattan, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "How are these results even possible?"

Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney, said during a news conference on Wednesday: "In total, the conspirators avoided loses of over $768,000, all because of the initial illegal insider trading tip by Congressman Collins". In addition to Rep. Collins and his son Cameron, Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins' fiancée, is also facing charges. Neither has responded to requests for comment since the Collins indictment was handed up.

The representative, who denies the charges, is not accused of selling stocks himself.

Collins, 68, is set to appear in Manhattan federal court Wednesday afternoon. When the drug trials failed, the public announcement caused the stock price of Innate to plunge 92 percent.

This is not the first time the congressman's involvement with Innate has attracted scrutiny.

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Collins's district in Western New York is solidly Republican and voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016.

Over the next few days, however, Cameron Collins sold off almost 1.4 million shares of Innate stock.

Chris Collins couldn't sell off his stock, according to prosecutors; He was already under a congressional ethics investigation and his stock was in the Australian markets, which had already halted trading of Innate stock.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called on the House Ethics Committee to conduct its own review of the new allegations against Collins. When the House Ethics Committee began investigating the stock trades a year ago, his spokeswoman called it a "partisan witch hunt".

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