Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced they had indicted New York Republican Congressman Chris Collins for insider trading, relating to an Australian bio-tech firm in which Collins owned stock and served on its board of directors.
In their indictment against Collins, as well as his son Cameron and Cameron’s fiancee’s father, prosecutors from the U.S. Southern District of New York allege that Collins “violated the duties he owed to Innate [Immunotherapies Limited] by passing material, nonpublic information regarding the Drug Trial results to his son Cameron Collins, the defendant, so that Cameron Collins could use that information to make timely trades in Innate stock and tip others.” Cameron, who also owns stock in Innate, then allegedly went on to pass that information to his soon-to-be father-in-law Stephen Zarsky. In addition, there are six other unnamed co-conspirators named in the indictment.
Collins has been charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI.
The congressman gained national notoriety in early 2016 when he became the first congressman to endorse then-candidate Donald Trump for the presidency. “We need a chief executive, not a chief politician,” Collins told CNN’s Erin Burnett at the time.
Collins has been under investigation for his ties to the company for well over a year. In June 2017, Politico reported that after Innate Immunotherapeutic shares plummeted over 90 percent, Collins lost $17 million. According to Politico’s Jake Sherman, Collins was hardly conspicuous about his stock dealings:
Collins’ attorneys released a statement on Collins’ official government website denying any wrongdoing, and vowed to fight the charges in court:
We will answer the charges filed against Congressman Collins in Court and will mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name. It is notable that even the government does not allege that Congressman Collins traded a single share of Innate Therapeutics stock. We are confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated.
Congressman Collins will have more to say on this issue later today.”
NBC News reported that Collins surrendered to law enforcement early Wednesday morning, and is expected to appear in court later today.