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Legal analyst: GOP congressman’s insider trading 'completely idiotic'

A top Trump cheerleader in Congress faces serious charges for an unbelievably obvious attempt at insider trading.

By Eric Boehlert - August 08, 2018
Chris Collins

Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) attempt at insider trading last year was utterly brazen — and “completely idiotic,” as CNN legal analyst and former New York prosecutor Paul Callan put it.

“It was the dumbest insider trade crime I’ve ever seen,” Callan said.

On Wednesday, Collins, an early and vocal support of Trump in 2016, surrendered to the FBI on charges of insider trading, wire fraud, conspiracy, and other counts.

After Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, laid out the damning evidence against Collins during a Wednesday press conference, CNN’s John King asked Callan: “Isn’t it pretty stupid to think you could get away with this?

“It’s completely idiotic,” Callan confirmed.

The facts would seem to concur.

Allegedly, Collins didn’t just engage in overt insider trading — he did so when he was already under investigation for insider trading by the House Ethics Committee.

Collins serves on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company. He is also one its largest shareholders, owning nearly 17 percent of the company’s stock.

While attending a congressional picnic at the White House on the evening of June 22, 2017, Collins received word from Innate’s CEO that the company’s hallmark drug in development had failed its trial test. That meant the drug, which was designed to fight multiple sclerosis, was now totally worthless.

And that meant the value of Innate would plummet once the publicly traded company released that information.

Before that happened, though, used his insider information to tip off his son, who then tipped off his fiancé and his fiancé’s family.

They all began dumping their Innate stock before news of the drug failure was revealed, and before the company’s value plunged by more than 90 percent when investors heard the bad news.

“He placed his family and friends above the public good,” Berman said of Collins on Thursday. “Congressman Collins, who by virtue of his office helps to write the laws of our nation, acted as if the law did not apply to him.”

Collins’ attorneys said in a statement that they will “mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name” and that they are “confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated.”

Collins himself wasn’t able to dump his own stock, partly because of the ongoing House ethics investigation into his activities.

Making matters worse, prosecutors also say that Collins and those involved in the scheme lied when they were questioned by the FBI. So now, they’re being prosecuted for making false statements to law enforcement in addition to everything else.

Idiotic, indeed.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 

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