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GOP Rep. Chris Collins Indicted on Insider Trading Charges

Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY.) nominates Donald Trump during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was indicted today on charges related to alleged insider trading, which has been the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation announced last fall.

Collins was charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements along with his son, Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of his son’s fiancée.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York alleges that Collins passed along information about Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company at which Collins once sat on the board and owns nearly 17 percent of stock. Because of a failed drug trial that hadn’t yet been made public, the company’s stock was about to take a nosedive, the indictment says, but because of Collins’ tip to his son that got passed along they made “timely trades” and avoided hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock losses.

“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. We are confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated.”

“Congressman Collins will have more to say on this issue later today,” they added. The third-term congressman, who represents parts of Buffalo and Rochester, was due to appear in court later today.

Collins was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump in the presidential election.

The House Ethics Committee announced Oct. 12, 2017, that it would review Collins’ activities after a March 2017 Office of Congressional Ethics report said Collins met with officials at the National Institutes of Health to discuss an Innate drug trial. “There is a substantial reason to believe that Representative Collins shared material nonpublic information in the purchase of Innate stock, in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” that report said.

UPDATE 12 p.m. EST: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Collins would be removed from his position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee “until this matter is settled.”

“While his guilt or innocence is a question for the courts to settle, the allegations against Rep. Collins demand a prompt and thorough investigation by the House Ethics Committee,” Ryan said. “Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust.”