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Former Equifax executive charged with insider trading before data breach made public

The offices of Equifax, the consumer credit reporting agency, in Atlanta, Sept. 12, 2017. (Kevin D. Liles/Copyright 2018 The New York Times)

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday, March 14, charged a former Equifax executive with insider trading, alleging that he profited from confidential information about a data breach at the company that compromised sensitive data of 143 million people to make a profit.

Jun Ying, former chief information officer of a U.S. business unit of Equifax, faces both civil and criminal charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

"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," Richard Best, Director of the SEC's Atlanta Regional Office, said in a statement." Corporate insiders who learn inside information, including information about material cyber intrusions, cannot betray shareholders for their own financial benefit."

Equifax, a major consumer credit reporting agency, disclosed last year that hackers had obtained sensitive information, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, for 143 million people. The breach began in May and was discovered by the company on July 29.

According to the SEC complaint, before the breach was made public, Ying exercised all of his Equifax stock options, reaping a profit of nearly $1 million and avoiding losses of more than $117,000 in losses.

Story by Renae Merle. Merle covers white-collar crime and Wall Street for The Washington Post.