Former Equifax employee gets hit with insider-trading charge

Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta.

Insider-trading charges were brought Wednesday against a former employee of Equifax who sold stock and options after learning of the massive data breach at the credit reporting agency.

Criminal and civil charges were brought against 42-year-old Jun Ying, who was chief information officer at Equifax’s EFX, -0.91%  U.S. Information Services division.

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia—Equifax is based in Atlanta—Ying on Aug. 25 texted a co-worker that the breach they were working on “sounds bad. We may be the one breached.”

He then conducted web searches on the effect of Experian’s 2015 data breach on its stock price, the U.S. Attorney said.

Later, he exercised all his stock options and received proceeds of over $950,000, and realized a gain of over $480,000, the U.S. Attorney said. The Securities and Exchange Commission said the move allowed Ying to avoid more than $117,000 in losses.

Equifax didn’t disclose its data breach until Sept. 7.

The SEC said its investigation was still ongoing.

Three executives disclosed in SEC filings that they sold their stock ahead of the announcement but after the July 29 discovery of the breach. None of those executives were charged, nor was the company.

Shares of Equifax were down 0.6% in Wednesday trade. The company’s stock has gained 4.3% so far in 2018, compared with a gain 0.6% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.06% and a return of 3.2% for the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.53%  over the same period.

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