Officials exonerate Equifax execs who sold shares before exposing hack attack
Four high-level executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million in the days immediately after the company discovered the breach, which was not made public for more than a month
ATLANTA—Equifax, the credit report company hacked over the summer exposing the personal information of 145 million Americans, said a special committee has determined that none of the four executives who sold shares at the time did anything wrong.
The high-level executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million in the days immediately after the company discovered the breach.
The company said Friday that a special committee comprised of independent directors and advised by an independent counsel found that none of the executives had knowledge of the breach when their trades were made and that preclearance for the trades was obtained.
The committee’s review of the matter included dozens of interviews and the scouring of more than 55,000 documents including emails, text messages, phone logs and other records.
The report is unlikely to relieve pressure on the beleaguered company, which repeatedly botched the response to the hack. In September consumers complained of jammed phone lines and uninformed representatives. An Equifax website set up to help people determine their exposure looked like a scam to some, and provided inconsistent and unhelpful information to others. And last month Equifax said that problems with an online customer help page were caused by a vendor’s software code and not by a cyberattack on its systems.
High-level executives, including CEO Richard Smith, have stepped down.
Investigators will want to know how a breach of this size and scope could have occurred, without the knowledge of some of the company’s highest executives.
The company disclosed a cyberattack that ran from mid-May to July. Equifax Inc. said it detected the hack on July 29.
On Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, Equifax Chief Financial Officer John Gamble and three other executives, Rodolfo Ploder, Joseph Loughran and Douglas Brandberg, sold a combined $1.8 million in stock.
Smith has already appeared before Congress, which was not satisfied with the answers it received.
The Atlanta company is under multiple state and federal investigations and has been sued by numerous customers in litigation likely to evolve into class-action lawsuits.