The stock value of the Australian biotech firm Rep. Chris Collins championed to fellow lawmakers plummeted on Tuesday, costing the New York Republican $17 million as investigators continue probing his relationship with the firm.
Innate Immunotherapeutic shares dropped more than 90 percent on Tuesday to 5 cents when markets closed in Australia. The tumultuous fall of the company’s stock followed an announcement that the firm’s star pharmaceutical drug for multiple sclerosis failed to pass clinical trials.
Collins’ relationship with the company has raised eyebrows in recent months. And the Office of Government Ethics is currently investigating whether Collins engaged in insider trading.
The longtime President Donald Trump supporter allegedly tipped off a number of lawmakers and Buffalo-area leaders to invest in the company, which sold Collins’ political acquaintances discounted shares that soared after their investments. Collins, who is the company’s largest shareholder and sits on the firm’s board, had also helped craft legislation to speed clinical trials, which would theoretically benefit Innate.
The Collins stock controversy almost sank ex-Rep. Tom Price’s nomination to lead the Health and Human Services Department after it was reported that the Georgia Republican and former Budget chairman had invested in Innate as well. Price sold his shares earlier this year for $250,000, after an initial $94,000 investment.
Collins in a statement Tuesday said that he was disappointed in the news but “hopeful that someday we can find a treatment for this the terrible disease of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.”
“After 14 years of hard work, substantial investment and dramatic progress, it is obvious that we have more to do,” he said. “For those that invested in Innate including me, we all were sophisticated investors who were aware of the inherent risk.”
A source close to the company said the $17 million loss was only on paper and that Collins’ actual loses are just over $5 million, the amount he invested about 15 years ago when he first encountered the firm. The source said he “never sold a share” in Innate.
According to financial disclosure forms, Collins is worth upwards of $40 million — or at least he was before the Innate stock plummeted.
It is unclear how much lawmakers who invested in the company have lost overall. Collins had recruited Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) to invest money in the company.