Equifax says investigation found no wrongdoing in exec stock sales

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Equifax says investigation found no wrongdoing in exec stock sales – Nov. 3, 2017

Consumer watchdog chief wants more scrutiny for Equifax

Equifax says four executives who sold company shares shortly after a massive data breach did not commit insider trading.

The credit reporting firm said Friday a special committee combed through 55,000 documents and none show wrongdoing by the executives.

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Equifax (EFX) said last month it would investigate the suspicious trades, which were made right around the time Equifax first learned hackers were able to gain access to personal information for about 143 million of its customers.

To conduct the investigation, Equifax put together a special committee made up of Equifax board members who are not employed by the company. The special committee members were advised by independent counsel, the company says.

The documents that the special committee reviewed included “emails, text messages, phone logs, and other records,” Equifax said in a press release.

Related: Equifax is dealing with yet another security issue

Four executives sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares between July 28 and August 2. Equifax said it first learned of the data breach on July 29, waiting more than a month after that to alert the public.

CNNMoney has previously reported on three of the stock sales Equifax says were reviewed in this investigation — including sales by Chief Financial Officer John Gamble, President of U.S. Information Solutions Joseph Loughran, and President of Workforce Solutions Rodolfo Ploder. Those men sold off nearly $2 million worth of shares.

Friday’s announcement reveals Equifax also looked into a sale by Douglas Brandberg, a senior vice president of investor relations, who sold 1,724 shares on August 2 when they would have been worth about $250,000.

Equifax’s special committee says its investigation found “none of the four executives had knowledge of the incident when their trades were made, that preclearance for the four trades was appropriately obtained, that each of the four trades at issue comported with Company policy, and that none of the four executives engaged in insider trading.”

Related: IRS suspends its contract with Equifax amid new security concerns

After the hack was disclosed, Equifax told CNNMoney that the sales of stock represented a “small percentage” of the shares owned by the three executives, and that they all “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred when they made the sales.”

More than 30 senators pressed the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate the trades. The SEC declined to comment on whether there were ongoing probes. DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Equifax’s data breach has spurred the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to launch investigations. At least 50 class action lawsuits have been filed.

–CNNMoney’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

CNNMoney (New York) First published November 3, 2017: 2:45 PM ET

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