Former chief information officer for Equifax's US Information Solutions, Jun Ying, was charged with insider trading on Wednesday by a grand jury in Atlanta. The executive stands accused of unloading almost $1 million worth of shares he held in the company just prior to the announcement of its data breach in 2017.
The Securities and Exchange Commission had already charged Ying with insider trading on Tuesday.
From May through July of last year, hackers accessed loads of information from consumers via the credit reporting agency. According to the Federal Trade Commission, hundreds of thousands of people had personal information exposed, including their names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and even credit card information. In total, 147.9 million Americans were impacted.
On July 29 of 2017, Equifax became aware of suspicious activity during an internal database review. The following month, the company changed credentials to a number of those databases. In late August, Ying and several of his subordinates were looped in to respond to the possible breach of information for an Equifax customer.
But Ying texted a colleague saying he was starting to put "2 and 2 together," and that "[Equifax] may be the one breached."
After a few days had passed, Ying used his work computer to research the impact on a competitor's stock price following a breach from 2015. Ying subsequently cashed in the entirety of his stock options the very same day, August 28. He is the only Equifax executive facing charges.
In an emailed statement, the company said, "Upon learning about Mr. Ying's August sale of Equifax shares, we launched a review of his trading activity, concluded that he violated our company's trading policies, separated him from the company and reported our findings to government authorities. We are fully cooperating with the DOJ and SEC, and will continue to do so."
Ying's attorneys have thus far declined to comment on the charges against their client. The executive was offered the top CIO position in Equifax prior to the discovery of his share sell-off. Subsequent to the findings, the offer was rescinded and he resigned.
Today, the Senate passed legislation that would reportedly benefit Equifax, giving the firm a "chance to expand their role in the mortgage industry."