NY congressman charged with insider trading

Rep. Chris Collins R-NY. speaks in Cleveland

Rep. Chris Collins R-NY. speaks in Cleveland

Christopher Collins, a Republican U.S. congressman from NY who was one of President Donald Trump's earliest supporters, was criminally charged on Wednesday with taking part in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company on whose board he served.

The indictment relates to "securities of Innate Immunotherapeutics.an Australian biotechnology company on whose board of directors Christopher Collins served", the DOJ said.

He accused Collins of tipping off his son and family and a friend to trade stock in a biotech company before drug trial results caused the stock to drop, saving some $768,000.

Collins came under scrutiny when, after purchasing millions of dollars of stock in Innate off its IPO in 2013, he wrote into a bill, called the "21st Century Cures Act", language that would help expedite the FDA's approval process for drugs like the one the company was developing.

The company's stock price fell more than 90 percent after results of the drug trial were released publicly, the documents state. Cameron Collins in turn allegedly tipped off Zarsky and others.

Also charged is Collins's son, Cameron Collins, and the father of Cameron's fiancee, Stephen Zarsky.

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Two lawyers for Collins, Jonathan Barr and Jonathan New, said in a statement that they were confident he would be "completely vindicated and exonerated". "They could only sell those shares on the initial tip of inside information by Congressman Collins". Prosecutors also planned to hold a news conference. Most recently, Collins called for an end to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into campaign collusion and blaming the Obama Administration for failing to push back on Russian Federation.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY filed insider trading charges against Christopher Collins, a Republican Congressman representing the 27th District of NY, his son Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins's fiancée.

In a report dated October 12, 2017, the OCE recommended that the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives "further review the above allegation because there is a substantial reason to believe that Representative Collins took official actions or requested official actions that would assist a single entity in which he had a significant financial interest, in violation of House rules and standards of conduct".

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. When the House's ethics committee began investigating the stock trades a year ago, his spokesperson called it a "partisan witch hunt".

Collins was an early Trump supporter and one of the president's liaisons in Congress.

Collins was attending a congressional picnic at the White House when he got the email. "Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust".

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