Insider trading charge against ex-Equifax manager linked to data breach

His profit was $75,000, the SEC said. Bonthu has agreed to return the money plus interest and to a permanent injunction to settle the SEC charges.

In a statement, Atlanta-based Equifax said, “Upon learning about the sales of Equifax shares by Mr. Bonthu, we immediately launched a review of his trading activity and separated him from our company after he declined to cooperate with our inquiry. We are fully cooperating with the SEC and the Department of Justice, and will continue to do so. We take corporate governance and compliance very seriously, and will not tolerate violations of our policies.”

After the data breach was revealed, questions about executives selling shares in the company emerged. Four top executives sold nearly $2 million of stock just days after the breach was discovered internally but weeks before the public was informed. A special committee of the board found that the sales by these executives were not improper and that they didn’t know about the breach at the time of the sales.

But another executive, Jun Ying, was indicted in March of insider trading. Prosecutors say he used inside knowledge and sold the equivalent of $950,000 of stock before the breach was made public and Equifax shares dropped 14 percent.

Richard Best, director of the SEC’s Atlanta bureau, said in a statement Thursday, “Corporate insiders simply cannot abuse their access to sensitive information and illegally enrich themselves.”

The SEC said the investigation is continuing.

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