Congressman charged with insider trading
Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins of New York was arrested Wednesday on charges he fed inside information he gleaned from sitting on the board of a biotechnology corporation to his son, helping family and friends dodge hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses when one of the company’s drugs failed in a medical trial.
Collins, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who was among the first sitting members of Congress to endorse his candidacy for the White House, pleaded not guilty to an indictment unsealed at a court in Manhattan. The indictment charges Collins, his son and the father of the son’s fiancee with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI.
Speaking to reporters in Buffalo hours after his release on bail, Collins, 68, professed his innocence and said he would remain on the ballot for re-election this fall.
“I believe I acted properly and within the law at all times,” he said. “I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name. I look forward to being fully vindicated and exonerated.”
Prosecutors said the charges stem from Collins’ decision to share with his son insider information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand. Collins was the company’s largest shareholder, with nearly 17 percent of its shares, and sat on its board.
According to the indictment, Collins was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017, when he received an email from the company’s chief executive saying that a trial of a drug the company developed to treat multiple sclerosis was a clinical failure.
Collins responded to the email saying: “Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???” the indictment said.
It said he then called his son, Cameron Collins, and, after several missed calls, they spoke for more than six minutes.
The next morning, according to the indictment, Cameron Collins began selling his shares, unloading enough over a two-day period to avoid $570,900 in losses before a public announcement of the drug trial results. After the announcement, the company’s stock price plunged 92 percent.