Equifax CEO To Retire After Massive Hacking Scandal (Photo)

Equifax CEO To Retire After Massive Hacking Scandal (Photo) Promo Image

The credit reporting agency Equifax has announced that its CEO will retire, weeks after a massive data breach that affected up to 143 million Americans.

Richard Smith, 57, said in a statement that Equifax needs new leadership "to move the company forward," according to CNBC.

Smith's abrupt retirement comes as Equifax deals with the fallout of a hacking scandal, made worse by the company's seemingly lackluster response. 

Equifax knew that it had been hacked as early as May, but did not inform the public until September, according to The New York Times.

Three of the company's executives are also under fire for selling almost $1.8 million worth of shares after the hack was discovered, but before it was publicly disclosed, according to Bloomberg. Equifax says the three executives didn't know about the hack until after they sold their shares. 

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The company also faces criticism over the tools they provided to people whose information may have been exposed. Equifax's website repeatedly crashed, people were unable to sign up for the protection being offered and Equifax charged people for credit freezes before public criticism forced the company to make them free, according to The New York Times. 

Smith is the third executive to leave the company in the wake of the hacking scandal. Earlier in September, Equifax's chief information officer and chief security officer resigned, according to The New York Times. 

Smith, who became CEO in 2005 after more than two decades at General Electric, earned a $1.45 million salary in 2016 plus a $3.045 million bonus, according to CNBC. He retires with $18.4 million in pension benefits and $20.8 million in stock awards, according to The New York Times.

Smith is set to testify before the Senate Banking Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee in early October. 

"I fully expect Mr. Smith to testify before the Banking Committee next week, regardless of the timing of his retirement," Sen. Brian Schatz said in a statement, according to CNBC. In the same statement, Schatz, a Democratic member of the banking committee, called Smith's decision to retire before testifying "an abdication of his responsibility." 

An Equifax spokesman said Smith will still testify, according to The New York Times. 

Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., head of Equifax's Asia-Pacific region, will become interim CEO, according to The New York Times. Mark Feidler, an Equifax board member, replaces Smith as chairman. 

"Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize," Feidler said, according to CNBC. 

Sources: The New York Times (2), CNBC, Bloomberg / Featured Image: Santeri Viinamaki/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Joey Ivansco/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP via The Washington Post, Pixabay

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