Trump’s "man on the Hill" arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation on securities fraud charges

Rep. Chris Collins R-NY. speaks in Cleveland

Rep. Chris Collins R-NY. speaks in Cleveland

USA prosecutors on Wednesday said Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from Western New York, has been indicted for insider trading in connection with the securities of Australian biotechnology company Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd.

Collins was a member of Innate's board of directors and held almost 17 percent of the stock. They say the son traded on the inside information and passed it to a third defendant, Stephen Zarsky.

Collins, who resigned in April from the Innate board, has denied wrongdoing. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of NY is expected to detail the charges in a press conference at noon.

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Collins is estimated to be the 13th wealthiest member of Congress, with a projected net worth of $44 million. The stock price rose as media reported on the men's holdings in the Australian company.

According to the indictment, the elder Collins was not able to sell his stock because it was held in Australia, where trading had been halted in advance of the company's announcement.

The attorneys note that Rep. Collins is not accused of selling any of his own shares, which lost 92 percent of their value after the adverse results of the clinical trial were released.

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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.

Collins was one of President Trump's earliest congressional supporters, becoming the first member of the House to endorse Mr. Trump for president during the 2016 campaign.

Chris Collins' lawyers responded swiftly, insisting he will be "completely vindicated".

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Collins, a vocal Trump ally, worked closely with the administration during the presidential transition, serving as the point of contact between lawmakers and the Trump transition team.

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