A former Equifax executive was indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of insider trading this week.
Equifax’s former chief information officer, Jun Ying of Atlanta, allegedly sold $950,000 worth of stock about a week before the Atlanta-based credit reporting agency made a massive data breach public on Sept. 7.
On Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, about two weeks before the company made the data breach public, Ying texted a co-worker and wrote: “Sounds bad. We may be the one breached.”
On Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, Ying conducted web searches on the impact of another credit agency’s data breach on its stock price. Experian also experienced a data breach in 2015. He then exercised all of his available stock options held at UBS Financial Services, resulting in him receiving 6,815 shares of Equifax stock, which he then sold.
He received proceeds of over $950,000 and realized a gain of over $480,000.
Equifax said in a statement that the company let Ying go after it reviewed his trading activity and reported him to federal authorities.
“Upon learning about Mr. Ying’s August sale of Equifax shares, we launched a review of his trading activity, concluded he violated our company’s trading policies, separated him from the company and reported our findings to government authorities,” Equifax said in a statement. “We are fully cooperating with the DOJ and the SEC, and will continue to do so.”
B.J. Pak, the U.S. attorney for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, said his office is still investigating whether other cases of insider trading occurred at Equifax.
“There were certain trading activity that occurred,” Pak said. “We contacted the company, issued a subpoena and got a response. As a result of our subpoena they conducted an internal investigation and shortly thereafter I believe Mr. Ying was released.”
Pak said the company fired him about a month after the subpoena was issued in September. The FBI is also investigating the case.
The massive cyberattack was announced to the public on Sept. 7 and exposed names, Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, birth dates, and addresses of more than 148 million people.
Equifax said other executives, including the chief financial officer, were investigated last fall by a special committee for selling $1.8 million in stocks just one month before the breach was made public, but they were found not guilty.
Ying faces up to 25 years in prison and civil penalties. He will have his first court appearance Thursday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker on the charges.