Congressman defiant after insider trading indictment

Chris Collins

Congressman Chris Collins Arrested For Insider Trading

That allowed them, prosecutors allege, to avoid more than $768,000 in losses they would have incurred if they had traded the stock after the drug trial results became public.

Collins got the news of the drug trial in a June 2017 email from the company's chief executive officer while attending an event on the South Lawn of the White House. The halt did not affect trading in the US.

The company's CEO emailed Collins and other Innate directors on June 22, 2017, to say the drug had failed. He bought at least 4 million shares between 2016 and 2018, according to the reports. "Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???"

The first six calls were missed however the last call, at 7.16pm, lasted six minutes. "Christopher Collins conveyed this material, nonpublic information to Cameron Collins knowing that it was in breach of his duties to Innate and anticipating that Cameron Collins would use it to trade and tip others", the indictment said.

The trial failure was "devastating information", Berman said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi: "The charges against Congressman Collins show the rampant culture of corruption and self-enrichment among Republicans in Washington today".

As an Innate director, Collins was required to keep that information secret. Instead, as alleged, he chose to commit a crime. "He placed his family and friends above the public good".

Collins's district in Western New York is solidly Republican and voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016. Over-the-counter trading continued, however, in the USA, where Cameron Collins' and Zarky's shares were held. Prosecutors said the congressman was "virtually precluded" from trading in part because he already faced a congressional ethics probe over Innate.

At 9:17 that same evening, Cameron drove to his father-in-law Zarsky's house. At 9.34pm, Zarsky's wife allegedly called their broker with instructions to sell their shares.

Between June 23 and 26 Cameron also sold off his Shares. The company was banking its entire future on the success of this drug, which, according, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation was expected to be worth billions of dollars. All three had bail set at $US500,000.

"We will answer the charges filed against Congressman Collins in Court and will mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name", attorneys for Collins said in a statement issued by his office. "It is notable that even the government does not allege that Congressman Collins traded a single share of Innate Therapeutics stock".

Two lawyers for Collins, Jonathan Barr and Jonathan New, said in a statement that they were confident he would be "completely vindicated and exonerated".

The charges were announced against Collins, a staunch supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump who is up for re-election in November. Reporters overheard him near the House floor earlier this year talking on the phone and proclaiming he'd created millionaires in his home town of Buffalo through a stock tip.

The report details how Collins met with officials at the National Institutes of Health to discuss the development of a drug made by Innate, a company whose board he served on. But, by mid-2017, he had recommended the company to friends, colleagues and relatives.

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".

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said he was removing Mr Collins from the House Energy and Commerce Committee and prodded his chamber's ethics panel to pursue "a prompt and thorough investigation" of the politician.

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