There are calls for Australian authorities to prosecute a disgraced former US congressman for insider trading while a director of an Australian drug company, amid concerns he may be pardoned by President Donald Trump.
Once a member of Mr Trump’s inner circle, former Republican congressman Chris Collins has recently been sentenced to prison in the US for insider trading and lying to the FBI.
A Four Corners investigation reveals investors and ethics experts are now questioning whether Australian regulators dismissed warning signs about Collins, long before he was convicted of insider trading on the lawn of the White House.
Who is Chris Collins?
Collins was the first congressman to endorse Mr Trump for president in 2016 and was given a coveted spot speaking at the Republican National Convention in front of thousands of the party faithful.
That speech gave the largely unknown congressman a “ticket to the big time”, according to Michael Caputo, a former Trump adviser.
After Mr Trump won office, Collins, a serial entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, was touted as a possible White House chief of staff or cabinet secretary.
Collins was given a role on Mr Trump’s transition team and at a rally in New York in mid-2017, the President declared: “I love him.”
At the same time, Collins was also a director and the largest shareholder of the Australian biotechnology company Innate Immunotherapeutics.
The company was focused on developing an experimental drug to treat secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Collins had poured millions of dollars into the company himself and convinced dozens of his colleagues, neighbours and staff to invest.
“Chris Collins was absolutely obsessed with this company and absolutely obsessed with this drug,” Buffalo News Washington bureau chief Jerry Zremski told Four Corners.
“He talked about it all the time,” he said.