U.S. congressman Collins Arrested on Insider-Trading Charges

Vastavam web: Christopher Collins, a Republican U.S. congressman from New York who was one of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters, was criminally charged on Wednesday with taking part in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company on whose board he served. The indictment came as Collins, 68, was seeking a fourth two-year term in November’s elections, where Democrats hope to recapture the House of Representatives.

Collins said the charges were baseless and he would run for re-election in November in his upstate New York district. “The charges that have been levied against me are meritless and I will mount a vigorous defence in court to clear my name,” Collins told reporters in Buffalo. The indictment charged Collins, his son Cameron, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins’ fiancée, with securities fraud, wire fraud and other crimes.

All three defendants pleaded not guilty on Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan. “We intend to mount a vigorous defence on behalf of our client,” Tom Hanusik and Rebecca Ricigliano, lawyers for Cameron Collins, said in a statement. Amanda Bassen, a lawyer for Zarsky, declined to comment. The case relates to Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd, where Christopher Collins sat on the board and held a 16.8 percent stake. According to the indictment, Collins immediately called his son and told him the news. Cameron Collins in turn told his fiancée, her parents and a friend, and Stephen Zarsky went on to tip his brother, his sister and a friend, the indictment said.

Christopher Collins did not trade his own Innate stock, which lost millions of dollars in value, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said the congressman was “virtually precluded” from trading in part because he already faced a congressional ethics probe over Innate. Sydney-based Innate did not respond to a request for comment outside business hours.

Collins represents New York’s solidly Republican 27th Congressional District, and nonpartisan analysts have predicted he will win re-election. The district includes areas surrounding Buffalo and Rochester. Last October, the Office of Congressional Ethics reported that it had “substantial reason” to believe Collins may have used his office to help Innate.