Chris Collins: early Trump ally charged with insider trading

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Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the first member of Congress to endorse President Donald Trump's presidential bid, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with securities fraud, NBC News reported. The case involved Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company. for which Collins served as a board member. They say the son traded on the inside information and passed it to a third defendant, Stephen Zarsky.

Before the drug trial results were released publicly on June 26, Cameron Collins made more that 50 trades in Innate stock and sold almost 1.4 millions shares, the documents state.

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. When the drug trials failed, the public announcement caused the stock price of Innate to plunge 92 percent. Cameron Collins in turn told his fiancée, her parents and a friend, and Stephen Zarsky went on to tip his brother, his sister and a friend, the indictment said.

Collins sat on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, an Australian biotech company that had been working on a drug meant to treat Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

Lawyers for Collins released a statement expressing confidence he would be "completely vindicated and exonerated".

"The charges against Congressman Collins show the rampant culture of corruption and self-enrichment among Republicans in Washington today", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fired off in a statement before prosecutors had even held a news conference to explain what they think Collins did wrong.

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

Western New York Republican Congressman Chris Collins has been indicted on insider trading charges, according to court documents unsealed in Manhattan federal court on August 8.

He then allegedly called Cameron Collins seven times, after which his son began selling large amounts of Innate stock until 26 June.

Collins has also pushed several bills that would have benefitted Innate, which has gotten the attention of the the House Ethics Committee.

Collins, one of President Donald Trump's early supporters in Congress, came under fire early past year for investing in the Sydney-based Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. while sitting on a House committee that oversees healthcare policy.

Mullin sits on the Health subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce alongside Collins. "Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust".