Chris Collins, Two Others Settle with SEC

Former Congressman admits to tipping off son about failed drug test

Tom Puckett
December 09, 2019 - 5:19 pm

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Washington, DC (WBEN) - Former Congressman Chris Collins, his son and his son's prospective father-in-law settle with the SEC over insider trading that led to his resignation from office.

The settlements, involving Collins, Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarksy, which are subject to court approval, bar Chris Collins from serving as an officer or director of a public company and require Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky to forfeit the losses they avoided as a result of their insider trading.

The SEC says in its complaint Chris Collins tipped his son, who then tipped others to non-public negative trial results for a multiple sclerosis drug developed by Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. The complaint alleged that Chris Collins, then an independent director on Innate’s board, learned of the results from Innate’s CEO and then spoke to his son Cameron, who traded on the information and tipped others, including his then-girlfriend’s father, Stephen Zarsky. Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky together sold nearly 1.7 million Innate shares in advance of Innate’s public announcement of the negative results, avoiding combined losses of more than $700,000.

“Insider trading undermines investor confidence in the fairness and integrity of the securities markets,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the Enforcement Division. “Today’s settlements, along with the previous criminal pleas, should deter others who may be tempted to engage in this pernicious conduct.”

“Our complaint alleged in detail how the defendants obtained and misused material nonpublic information for their own financial and personal gain,” said Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the Enforcement Division. “Upon approval, this resolution will strip former Representative Collins of the privilege of serving as an officer or director of a public company and ensure that the traders are deprived of their ill-gotten gains.”

Chris Collins consented to be permanently barred from acting as an officer or director of any public company. Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky agreed to give up their avoided losses with prejudgment interest, totaling $634,299 and $159,880, respectively. The settlements are subject to the approval of the Honorable Katherine Polk Failla of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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