Equifax may be trying to move on from its 2017 data breach but the courts are doing their level best to keep the incident in the news, with former tech chief Jun Ying being handed a four month jail term – and a massive fine – after being found guilty of insider trading.
The incident, which affected 147 million people, has already cost the firm $1.35bn (£1.1bn) and has been branded “the greatest security catastrophe of modern times”.
The US court heard how chief information officer Ying worked out what had happened before he was officially informed by Equifax.
He then looked online to see how a major hack on rival Experian had affected the company’s stock price. Within an hour of discovering how Experian’s shares had plummeted after a much smaller hack, Ying exercised all of his Equifax stock options and sold those shares for $950,000 (£680,000).
The court was told that this amounted to illicit trading because Ying managed to avoid losses of $117,000 (£93,000) as, once the news broke, Equifax shares crashed through the floor.
US Attorney Byung J Pak said: “Ying thought of his own financial gain before the millions of people exposed in this data breach even knew they were victims. He abused the trust placed in him and the senior position he held to profit from inside information.”
Alongside a four-month prison sentence, the ex-CIO has been ordered to pay restitution of the $117,000 (£93,000) losses he avoided, as well as a $55,000 (£44,000) fine.
He is the second Equifax executive to be fingered for trying to profit from the incident; back in October, former manager Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu was sentenced to eight months house arrest, fined $50,000 and forced to pay back over $75,000.
And, no doubt much to Equifax’s exasperation, it is highly unlikely that this case will draw a line under the incident; the data giant also faces a flood of legal action from US consumers, while the Canadian authorities recently revealed they will be monitoring the business for the next six years.
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