Equifax said it will look both inside and outside the company for a permanent CEO
Equifax Inc. is seen, in this Saturday, July 21, 2012 photo, in Atlanta. Equifax Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency in the United States, considered one of the three largest American credit agencies along with Experian and TransUnion. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart), photo: AP/Mike Stewart
26 of September 2017 12:29:36
NEW YORK – Equifax CEO Richard Smith stepped down Tuesday, less than three weeks after the credit reporting agency disclosed a damaging data breach that exposed highly sensitive information for about 143 million U.S citizens.His departure follows those of two other high-ranking executives who left in the wake of the company's admission that hackers exploited a software flaw that it did not fix to access Social Security numbers, birthdates and other personal data that provide the keys to identify theft.Smith, who had been CEO since 2005, will also leave the chairman post.Equifax said Smith was retiring, but he will not receive his annual bonus and other potential retirement-related benefits until the company's board concludes an independent review of the data breach. If the review does not find Smith at fault, he could walk away with a retirement package of at least $18.48 million, along the value of the stock and options he was paid out over his 12-year tenure. The board also could "claw back" any cash or stock bonuses he may have received, if necessary.Smith, who made almost $15 million in salary, bonuses and stock last year, will be able to stay on the company's health plan for life.
Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., most recently president of the Asia Pacific region, was named interim CEO, and board member Mark Feidler was appointed non-executive chairman. Equifax said it will look both inside and outside the company for a permanent CEO.Even with the departures of three top executives, Equifax is still facing several inquiries and class-action lawsuits, including congressional investigations, queries by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as several state attorneys general.Three executives, none of them among those who have left, were found to have sold stock for a combined $1.8 million before Equifax disclosed the most serious breach, though the company says they were unaware of it at the time.Although analysts had previously applauded Equifax's performance under Smith, he and his management team had come under fire for lax security and their response to the breach. Confusion over the terms of credit-monitoring protection and jammed phone lines added to people's ire. The company's stock has lost a third of its value — a $5.5 billion setback.Equifax tried to appease incensed lawmakers, consumers and investors by announcing the unceremonious retirement of its chief security officer and chief information officer, who were responsible for managing and protecting the company's technology. But that wasn't enough, with lawmakers drawing up bills that would impose sweeping reforms on Equifax and its two main rivals, Experian and TransUnion.
Today, we are announcing leadership changes at Equifax. Read more here: https://t.co/ndVzs1ymzQ— Equifax Inc. (@Equifax) 26 de septiembre de 2017
KEN SWEETMICHAEL LIEDTKE