(File photo: AFP)
Washington (People's Daily)- Federal prosecutors charged Christopher Collins, a Republican US congressman from New York, with taking part in an insider trading scheme on Wednesday, handing Democrats another scandal before the mid-term election.
“These charges are a reminder that this is a nation of laws, and that everybody stands equal before the bar of justice,” US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a news conference in Manhattan.
Collins, who was an early supporter of the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, was seeking reelection this November. “The charges that have been levied against me are meritless and I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name,” Collins told reporters after the indictment.
Collins' case relates to Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd, where he sat on the board. Innate is an Australian biotech company that was developing a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Prosecutors said that in June 2017, Collins learned at a congressional picnic on the South Lawn that a trial for Innate's proposed secondary multiple sclerosis drug MIS416 had failed.
According to the indictment, Collins immediately called his son, Cameron Collins, and told him the news. Cameron Collins in turn told his fiancee, her parents and a friend about the failure. In the days that followed, Cameron Collins sold off his stock, avoiding losses of more than $570,000.
Soon after the charges were announced, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stripped Collins of his seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and called for the House Ethics Committee to look into the allegations.