Federal prosecutors in New York on Wednesday charged New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, his son and another man with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and false statements stemming from an alleged insider trading scheme centered on an Australian pharmaceutical company.
The congressman's son and his son's father-in-law have also been indicted on charges related to insider trading.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of NY plans to hold a press conference at noon to detail the charges against Collins and the two others.
In October, a congressional ethics investigation determined there was "a substantial reason to believe" Rep. Collins violated federal law when he promoted stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics using insider information.
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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.
Lawyers for Collins said the congressman would be "completely vindicated".
"In the hours and days after learning of the drug trial results, [Collins], his son and their associates exchanged a flurry of calls", said Steven Peikin, co-director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement division.
According to the charging documents, in June 2017 Chris Collins passed on information about a failed drug trial so his son, Zarsky and others could make trades. He allegedly then promptly notified his son of the nonpublic information, who spread the news to other family members and friends who had bought shares in the company.
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The firm's stock plunged by more than 92% after it was revealed that a multiple sclerosis drug it was developing had failed trials.
They are said to have avoided at least $768,000 in potential losses by selling before the negative trial results were made public. "They could only sell those shares by virtue of the initial tip of inside information by Congressman Collins".
In a statement to CNBC, attorneys for Collins vowed to "mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name". By the time he sold the shares in February 2017, they were worth roughly 70 cents each, giving him a profit of more than $150,000, according to ProPublica.
"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 in a statement.
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