A former Equifax tech chief who worked on the company’s breach notification website for last year’s mass hack attack has been sentenced to eight months house arrest, fined $50,000 and forced to pay back over $75,000 after being found guilty of insider trading.
According to court documents, Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu worked on the equifaxsecurity2017.com website which the company built so that customers could see if they were affected by last year’s breach, during which a hacker stole the personal details of over 145 million users.
Equifax managers briefed Bonthu to work on an internal project, named Project Sparta, for a high priority client that was going public with news of a breach. However, he soon realised on that the secretive Project Spart client was, in fact, his employer.
Bonthu then used his wife’s brokerage account to buy so-called “put options” in Equifax, which would come through if Equifax’s stock fell below $130 per share by September 15. When Equifax stock plummeted after the company disclosed its breach on September 7, it netted Bonthu a profit of $75,167.68, a 3,500% increase on his investment.
The company fired Bonthu in March 2018 after he refused to co-operate with its investigation.
Bonthu was the second Equifax employee charged for insider trading after the Securities & Exchange Commission charged former Equifax executive Jun Ying in March. Ying’s case is still ongoing.
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