Politics

Indicted Rep. Chris Collins Opens Up About FBI Visit to Home

New York Republican faces multiple charges based on insider trading

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., opened up about two FBI agents’ visit to his New York home in April before he was indicted for insider trading. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When two FBI agents showed up at Rep. Chris Collins’ door at 6 a.m. on April 25, it was the “shock of all shocks,” he said.

Three and a half months later, on Aug. 8, officials arrested and indicted the New York Republican, his son, and the father of his son’s fiancée on multiple charges of securities fraud, one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count each of making false statements.

The Securities and Exchange Commission had flagged Collins for illegally sharing insider trading information with his son, Cameron Collins, who then disseminated that information to his girlfriend and her family members.

In an interview with WIVB in Buffalo, Collins opened up about the timeline of his indictment and maintained his innocence.

He was released on $500,000 bail after pleading not guilty in August.

“That was the shock of all shocks, to have two agents at your door at 6 a.m. saying they just want to talk,” Collins said of the visit he received from the FBI agents in April.

“It turns out, you know, they don’t read you your rights, they don’t tell you you can have an attorney, they don’t tell you why they’re there,” he said. “It’s just, ‘Oh, we’d like to talk.’”

Collins answered the door in his bathrobe and barefoot after just getting out of bed, he said in the interview. He invited the FBI agents in and chatted with them for “45 minutes or so” about his involvement in the trickle of information in the alleged insider trading scandal.

“I shared everything from A to Z,” Collins said.

But then, after talking for close to an hour, he said, the agents hit him with a bombshell.

“At the end of it all, they said, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a subpoena for you,’” Collins said.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin has removed Collins from each of his committee assignments as the investigation continues. Collins will not run for re-election.

The third-term congressman passed nonpublic information about the drug trial results of an Australian biotech company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, to his son to help him “make timely trades in Innate stock and tip others,” the indictment alleges. Cameron Collins then allegedly traded on that inside information and passed it to Stephen Zarsky, his fiancée’s father-in-law, “so that they could utilize the information for the same purpose,” according to the indictment. Zarsky also allegedly traded on the inside knowledge and passed it along to yet more unnamed co-conspirators.

“Christopher Collins knew or recklessly disregarded that he breached his duty by disclosing this inside information to Cameron Collins,” the SEC has said.

Collins bought at least 4 million shares in Innate between 2016 and 2018, according to House periodic transaction reports.

The Australia-based biotech company is trying to develop a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Collins is the company’s largest shareholder and serves on its board of directors, attending its meetings by phone.

His stock in Innate shot down from $25,000,001 to $1,000,001, according to his most recent financial disclosure.

Watch: Pass the Pie and the Secrets: Collins Allegedly Shared Insider Trading Knowledge While At Congressional Picnic

Lindsey McPherson and Paul Fontelo contributed to this report.

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