U.S. congressman, Trump loyalist, indicted for insider trading

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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. They say the son traded on the inside information and passed it to a third defendant, Stephen Zarsky.

Collins was charged Wednesday with insider trading for tipping off his son, Cameron, one of Innate's top shareholders, ahead of time that the company's multiple sclerosis drug MIS416 failed a clinical trial - a development that caused Innate's stock to plummet 92 percent previous year.

"The crime that he committed was to tip his son Cameron so that Cameron and a few select others could trade on the news while the investing public remained in the dark", Berman said.

Collins, 68, was charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and making false statements, according to the indictment.

Collins' lawyers noted in a statement that the government has not said the congressman traded any shares of the stock.

The 68-year-old Collins, a conservative who was first elected in 2014 to represent parts of western NY between Buffalo and Rochester, has denied any wrongdoing.

The feds say Collins found out about the drug trial failure while he was attending the Congressional picnic at the White House in June of 2017.

Chris Collins
Chris Collins. Win McNamee Getty Images

Collins's district in Western New York is solidly Republican and voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016. "This follows the company previously suggesting a great response to its drug and touting that it stood to generate as much as $3 billion in profits in this country alone", Slaughter said in a statement.

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

Collins "placed his family and friends above the public good", said US Attorney Geoffrey Berman at a news conference Wednesday in New York City.

Collins has a track record of publicly backing Trump, including being one of the first sitting members of U.S. Congress to endorse his candidacy.

Mullin sits on the Health subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce alongside Collins. Indeed, Collins lost $17 million when the company's stock pice dipped down to five cents, according to reports from last June. "How are these results even possible?" "Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust".

Collins had been under a U.S. House Ethics Committee review over questions about whether he had received inside information about the stock - and there had also been stories about whether he wrongly forwarded information to other lawmakers, who purchased stock as well.