Trump Pardons Former Congressman Convicted of Insider Trading of Pharma Stock

Chris Collins_Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins spent less than a year in federal prison for pleading guilty to violating felony insider trading laws when he sat on the board of directors of Australia-based Innate Therapeutics. On Tuesday, Collins received a pardon from President Donald Trump.

Collins, who represented the Buffalo, New York area in Congress, was the first Republican member of that body to openly endorse Trump’s bid for the presidency in 2015. Collins was among 15 people to receive pardons from the outgoing president Tuesday. Others who were pardoned include former Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who pled guilty to misusing campaign funds, and four former security contractors who were convicted of the killings of Iraqi civilians and children.

In a brief statement issued Tuesday, the White House said Trump granted a full pardon to Collins “at the request of many Members of Congress,” although no specific members were cited as they were in other pardons granted.

In 2019, Collins pled guilty to the charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI.  Collins was convicted in January of this year to a 26-month sentence.

Collins sat on the board of Innate Therapeutics and held a 17% stake in the company, which made him the largest single shareholder. Combined with investments made by his family, that control jumped to about 21%. In 2017, while at a White House event, Collins received a message from the company’s chief executive officer that an experimental multiple sclerosis drug failed in a clinical study. After he received the call, Collins alerted his son Cameron about the failure and recommended he quickly sell the shares he owned before the knowledge became public. Cameron Collins in turn notified his fiancée and her family, who also owned shares in the company and advised them to sell. The large sell-off of shares ahead of the public announcement alerted authorities to the potential of insider trading. When the news about the trial’s failure was made public, shares of Innate plunged about 90%. Collins did not unload his own stock ahead of the public announcement and was reported to have lost about $16 million that day. His family did not suffer those losses due to him having passed along the information ahead of the announcement.

Collins was indicted in 2018, pleaded guilty to the charges and resigned his seat in Congress last year. Cameron Collins and his now father-in-law also pleaded guilty, but received lighter sentences.

During his time on Innate’s board of directors, Collins was known to urge members of his caucus and circle of friends to invest in Innate. In 2017 it was reported that Collins bragged about how many millionaires he had made of people due to their investments in Innate.

Following the charges against Collins and the others, Innate changed its name to Amplia Therapeutics as part of a “branding refresh” to show the company’s focus on the “development of a pipeline of Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) inhibitors for cancer and fibrosis.”

Most Read Today

Back to news