After months of scrutiny from authorities following the massive data breach that hit nearly half the US population last year, Equifax’s former chief information officer Jun Ying has been charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The charges announced Wednesday concern Ying’s trading in shares of Equifax in 2017, just a few days before the credit-reporting agency announced that 148 million Americans had their personal information accessed, including social security numbers, driver’s licenses, and credit card numbers.
The SEC brought the insider trading case against Ying who worked as CIO for Equifax’s US business unit in that timeframe and is alleged to have exercised all of his vested stock options and then sold the shares, reaping proceeds of nearly $1 million. According to the complaint, the former executive is accused of violating federal laws by using knowledge of nonpublic events related to certain securities to avoid more than $117,000 in losses.
The SEC has chosen to file the action as an administrative proceeding, and is seeking injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and the imposition of civil monetary penalties. In addition, the US Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Georgia today announced parallel criminal charges against Ying.
Commenting on the case, Richard R. Best, Director of the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office, said: “As alleged in our complaint, Ying used confidential information to conclude that his company had suffered a massive data breach, and he dumped his stock before the news went public. Corporate insiders who learn inside information, including information about material cyber intrusions, cannot betray shareholders for their own financial benefit.”