USA congressman, Trump loyalist, indicted for insider trading

Rep. Chris Collins R-NY. speaks in Cleveland

Rep. Chris Collins R-NY. speaks in Cleveland

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. According to The New York Times, Collins is accused of selling his stock in the company before a failed test result for one of its drugs was made public.

Cameron Collins is accused of passing on that information to his fiancee's father, Stephen Zarsky, and others, who also benefited financially from the insider knowledge. The indictment says the trades allowed Cameron Collins and others to avoid more than $768,000 in losses. During the tax reform debate, when his fellow New York GOP members of Congress were up in arms about a provision that would likely raise taxes on many New Yorkers, Collins voiced support for the plan.

Collins' lawyers noted in a statement that the government has not said the congressman traded any shares of the stock. Neither has responded to requests for comment since the Collins indictment was handed up.

Collins' latest sale of Innate Immunotherapeutics holdings was on June 20, 2018 and valued between $15,000 and $50,000 according to House periodic transaction reports. The company developed a drug meant to treat Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

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All along, Collins denied any wrongdoing.

Collins, who represents the suburbs of Buffalo and rural counties in upstate NY, became the first House Republican to endorse Donald Trump's bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Reps. John Culberson of Houston and Mike Conaway of Midland had also bought shares in the firm, though they apparently didn't dump shares shortly before the price crashed - unlike Collins' son, whose well-timed sale is at the heart of the insider trading case.

In a statement, the congressman's legal counsel addressed the accusations, expressing confidence he will be vindicated and exonerated in court.

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