The well-timed selling of stock by three Equifax executives right before a massive hack was detected is a coincidence, according to recent company-organized investigation.
Equifax, a credit reporting firm, discovered July 29 that the personal information — including addresses, and credit card and Social Security numbers — of 143 to 145.5 million Americans was exposed. It eventually disclosed the data breach, which lasted from mid-May to July, in September.
The corporation originally said the trio of higher-ups — CFO John Gamble, president of U.S. information solutions Joseph Loughran, and president of workforce solutions Rodolfo Ploder — were unaware of the hacking incident. And now a new report from a board-appointed special committee affirms what the company said.
After analyzing dozens of interview and thousands of documents, like emails, text messages, phone logs, as well as other records, the committee found that they all sold their shares for other reasons. Gamble, for example, allegedly sold 6,500 shares of Equifax stock Aug. 1 because he wanted to pay for a home renovation, reports Gizmodo, something discovered through discussions with an outside financial adviser. Gamble wasn’t told of the hack until Aug. 10, says the official review.
Ploder sold his shares for a prospective move to a new city, and Loughran’s reason is not quite clear, but his personal financial move was reportedly approved a day before the hack was discovered by the company.
The former CEO of Equifax, who stepped down after a whirlwind of bad press stemming from a number of ensuing debacles, told lawmakers during an October congressional hearing that the executives were not apprised of the large-scale virtual infiltration. (RELATED: The ‘Monopoly Guy’ Is Photobombing Senate’s Hearing With Equifax)
“The conclusion that the Company executives in question traded appropriately is an extremely important finding and very reassuring,” non-executive Chairman Mark Feidler said in a statement, according to Reuters.
A fourth executive, who was not a part of the original probe, was also cleared of wrongdoing through his business maneuvers. Nevertheless, while they all may be cleared of improprieties in this sense, they all may have made leadership mistakes that played at least a small part in letting the breach happen.
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