News10NBC Investigates: Rep. Collins questioned by House ethics investigators 2 weeks before alleged illegal tip to son

August 10, 2018 06:34 AM

News10NBC uncovered information that shows Congressman Chris Collins knew he was under investigation before he allegedly broke the laws that got him arrested Wednesday. 

News10NBC poured through 70 pages of testimony to look at the timing and how it lined up with these new criminal charges.

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When Rep. Collins walked out of federal court in New York City Wednesday, he was swamped by reporters. 

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean worked his way in to ask him a question. 

"Chris, what would you say to the people of western New York?" Brean asked. 

Collins didn't answer but he did try to answer questions from congressional ethics investigators last year.  

Here's the key point.

Congressman Collins testified to the Office of Congressional Ethics on June 5, 2017. 

The questions were focused on his involvement with the drug company called Innate. It's the same Australian-based company prosecutors say Rep. Collins tipped off his son to sell before the stock tanked. 

At the time, Rep. Collins owned the most amount of stock in the company. 

Click here to read the testimony of Rep. Collins and the conclusion of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

But here's what jumped out to News10NBC. Rep. Collins had already testified under oath to the ethics office about possible insider trading on June 5, 2017.

Federal prosecutors say Collins' illegal stock tip to his son came on June 22, 2017.

What does that mean? 

Rep. Collins knew he was under investigation but made the choice to call his son anyway. 

The complaint against Rep. Collins says he called his son after Rep. Collins was alerted by Innate's CEO about bad news regarding the failed testing for Innate's only drug. 

Within three days, Rep. Collins' son, his son's fiancée and her parents sold all of their Innate shares, avoiding losses of more than $750,000.

In October 2017, the congressional ethics investigation found "a substantial reason to believe that Representative Collins shared non-public information in the purchase of Innate stock, in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law."

On Thursday, News10NBC contacted the Office of Congressional Ethics and asked, where does the case against Collins stand? 

The office said, "No comment."

News10NBC contacted the lawyer for Chris Collins. 

So far - nothing. 

Wednesday night in Buffalo, Rep. Collins said he never did anything wrong. 

Rep. Chris Collins, (R) New York 27th District: "I believe I acted properly and within the law at all times with regard to my affiliate with Innate. Throughout my years in Congress, I have followed all rules and ethical guidelines when it comes to my personal investments including those with Innate."

In the ethics investigation, Collins was questioned about sharing inside information about Innate to members of Congress and friends in the hopes they would buy stock. 

The criminal investigation says he shared inside information about Innate to his family so they could sell their stock before it tanked. 


Berkeley Brean

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