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Early Trump Backer Republican Chris Collins Resigns from Congress Amid Insider Trade Probe

Collins was indicted last year for using privileged information about an Australian biotech firm, on whose board he sat, to help his son avoid major financial losses before the company's stock plunged in value.

AFP

Updated:October 1, 2019, 8:30 AM IST
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Early Trump Backer Republican Chris Collins Resigns from Congress Amid Insider Trade Probe
File photo of Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Collins of western New York state, right, sits next to President Donald Trump during a meeting with House Republicans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Washington: US House Republican Chris Collins, President Donald Trump's first supporter in Congress, is resigning his seat, a leadership spokesman said Monday ahead of the lawmaker's expected guilty plea to federal securities fraud.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office is "in receipt of a letter of resignation," a senior Democratic aide told AFP. The resignation takes effect Tuesday.

Collins was indicted last year for using privileged information about an Australian biotech firm, on whose board he sat, to help his son avoid major financial losses before the company's stock plunged in value.

The 69-year-old lawmaker representing western New York narrowly won re-election in November 2018 despite the indictment hanging over him.

Collins, his son Cameron Collins and a third man were to be tried next February, and all were to plead not guilty.

But a document filed Monday in Federal District Court in Manhattan showed that a change of plea would occur for all three men at a hearing Tuesday, The New York Times reported.

The conservative Collins was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Trump for president in 2016.

Innate Immunotherapeutics, the firm connected to Collins, had been developing a drug to treat multiple sclerosis, but in June 2017 the drug's clinical trial was declared a failure.

According to the indictment, Collins tipped his son to the confidential information and then lied about it to law enforcement.

The tips allowed Cameron Collins, the third man Stephen Zarsky, and others "to avoid over $768,000 in losses that they would have otherwise incurred" if they sold the stock after the announcement, the indictment said.

Collins himself did not conduct illegal trades, it said.

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